Excision’s inaugural Lost Lands Music Festival provided three days of neck-breaking bass and a festival experience that rivals any that I’ve ever attended.
Driving through the night as we headed to Lost Lands Music Festival, we made decent time considering how tired everyone was, and we stopped to meet up with the other car just an hour outside of the city. It was still a few hours before gates would open and we needed groceries but more importantly, we needed sleep. After a quick power nap and re-piling everything back in the car, we were on our way.
The GPS wasn’t a huge help as we got closer and we were trying to follow the directions on the website but service was scarce for most of us. After making a couple of U-turns we finally found the path to camping and entered off to the side so that some of our friends could go to will call. As the rest of us watched the car lines get longer and longer, we knew it was going to take a while.
My crew and I entered one of the eight lines around 9 am and killed some time by meeting the cars around us after a long exhausting night of traveling. Many people had come to Lost Lands from Michigan just like us, as well as a few from Florida and the Carolinas. Everyone that had glass was consuming it while they waited. There was a plethora of beer being shared between cars as we all approached the point of confiscation.
Upon arriving at the search checkpoint and before we had all even stepped out of the car, the security guard said that her supervisor had “smelled weed.”
It was then that we were separated from our other car and asked to go into the secondary search. A security guard with a dog came over and said, “This is your chance to throw away anything you have on your person or in your car, no questions asked.” We stood silent and confident since we had nothing to hide.
“All right, that was your warning. Empty the car and pile everything over here,” the security guard said. It’s incredible that even when you know you have nothing, a security guard with a dog is still intimidating. Of course, there wasn’t a hit on anything since we had nothing illegal for them to find and we were told to go.
The whole process of waiting in line, the dog experience, and finally being told we were free to go took around four hours, but we were finally placed in a camping spot and ready to set up.
The trek to the gate was not a short one all the while pedicabs and golf carts zoomed by us adding to the array of dust in the air. We took the grove shortcut and went past the many more rows of camping. It was hard to really guess how many attendees were there. By the time we finally approached the Legend Valley sign we had come to the conclusion that we probably wouldn’t be using that one “in and out” option. We patiently waited for the crossing officer to wave us through and we were on our way to the gates.
As we crossed the street, we were faced with dinosaurs for the first time.
Two ferocious and well-designed, ancient reptiles were facing each other while a “Welcome Headbangers” sign hung above them at the entrance of the Lost Lands festival grounds. It was a great first photo opportunity and was just the appetizer for what was to come. Various attendees walked up to them to touch and feel them, a security guard close at hand to make sure no one tried to ride them. They were beautiful and surpassed what I think any of us could have imagined.
Just after 2 pm, the lines to get into the festival were already extremely long and the search in some lines was just as thorough as the car search, taking 45 minutes to get in. As we walked down the hill into the main area of the venue for the first time we saw more dinosaurs to our left and through the trees, we saw the main stage.
The main stage was awe-inspiring: a volcano on either side of it and two matching Tyrannosaurus Rexes.
A giant LED screen in the center and two dinosaur skulls lined the decks. As you panned over the crowd and up the hill, a giant Brachiosaurus watched over everyone. It was probably the first time we really felt the “dinosaurs to scale” theme. We walked past the trees we would later call “hammock village,” and as with most festivals, went immediately to the water station. The water had lines of people uphill in both directions, and the water pressure split created a very slow stream, so when eight of us had to fill up water, we were in for another wait.
We finally made it to the main stage in time to see Figure B2B Midnight Tyrannosaurus. It was a great introduction into the afternoon and led perfectly into Herobust, whose set was wild. For the short time I was in the photo pit, people were literally lifting themselves onto the rail to headbang. The tone was set and this bass-heavy premiere was definitely going to break some necks!
From there we ventured to the Cave of Souls. The tent was a long pipe, and at the front was the stage with a deck and another giant LED screen. Stalactites and stalagmites lined either side of it and really completed the cave atmosphere. Squnto’s set was an incredible journey into the night. His visuals of a stag head and deep bass tremble had all of us wildin’ out. That was the first time we got to also the lasers and projections.
Multiple laser cannons shot all over the walls and the projections spun brilliant shapes and designs all around us. It was like watching magic take place inside a cave – that is literally the best way to describe and imagine it. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the main stage.
Shortly after Kill the Noise had started we carved our way through the crowd to set up for the next few sets.
It was full of energy and now that dark had come we really got to see the force of the stage. Flames shot out from the volcanoes and from the center of the stage. The LED’s brilliant designs felt bright even from where we were. As their set led into Seven Lions, I won’t lie, we were all getting a little exhausted.
I’ve seen Seven Lions multiple times this year and each time has been better than the last. The production he had access to elevated his music to the next level. Giant projections onto the volcanoes showed lava pouring down, into flowers erupting all over, all while lasers shot into the night in a beautiful display. His psytrance tracks brought us back to life and it was the first time we realized the flames could erupt in different colors! Brilliant blues, reds, greens, and pure white flames shot out into the night. It was incredible.
Finally, it was time for the Prehistoric Paradox by Excision himself!
The hype was real and it was different from the normal Paradox many of us have become accustomed to seeing. The visuals were on point and the volume was definitely earth-shaking – 750W PK speakers well used. It was only the first day and our muscles had become mush; our necks needed braces but we were still ready to go. Smoke erupted from the stage as lasers and fire blasted. This was the pinnacle of the first day and we were more than happy with how things had gone.
We would stay for 12th Planet but by then the sound restrictions kicked in and even in the front row we were a little saddened by how quiet it had become.
The second day brought a renewed sense of energy and excitement. We saw the announcement early that morning on social media that at 5 pm there would be a T-Rex meetup.
I honestly wondered how many T-Rex’s could there possibly be. We went inside in time for Kai Wachi whose set was the biggest surprise considering I’d never seen him and just how hard he threw down.
About halfway through his set, it began – the T-Rex meetup. At first, it was just three or four, then suddenly it was six to ten, and before you could even blink, there were 16+ blow up T-Rexes dancing away! They chased a bone and jumped around with each other before one of them led them straight into the crowd.
Everyone moved out of their way and they spread across the left side of the stage, just a magnificent line of dinosaurs wobbling in the crowd.
A security guard came and started talking to one of the T-Rexes and they started passing a message along, then suddenly linked arms and started walking out. I wondered where they were going, only to see that the security guard was now leading them to the photo pit area!
They raged in the pit, they spread themselves out and even headbanged with the crowd. Even writing this gives me goosebumps from how hilarious and fantastic it was. Before the set was over they wandered to the left side of the stage and created a mosh pit with themselves! Imagine for a moment, just T-Rex inflatable costumes just pushing each other around – it was enough to bring tears to your eyes.
The rest of our day was filled with epic sets from Sullivan King, FuntCase, Cookie Monsta, and Slander. Each set was heavier and more energetic than the last.
To describe how powerful the speakers were in the Cave of Souls, while I was in the pit, my back to the speakers for Slander, when the bass hit, my hat flew off and my hair completely blew to the front of my face from the force. I was thankful that every day they handed out quality earplugs in a nice Lost Lands container to myself and everyone in attendance. I collected one each day because I kept giving them out to people.
As we left the Cave of Souls to go back for Snails we looked back and realized that the tarp of the tent was also being used for projections. Dinosaurs roamed the outside of the tent and it completely changed how I will look at tent covers!
That day was also my first time seeing the rightfully described “supergroup” Destroid.
The combination of live band and dubstep was something that was as incredible to watch as it was to listen to. The best surprise was when they brought out Sullivan King to completely shatter our world with his guitar skills. It was lit – no, quite literally lit. I looked up to the left volcano by the stage and realized it was not shooting flames, but instead actually on fire. It didn’t take long for the music to cut out and security started asking us to back away from the rail.
This was both unexpected and hilarious if you knew Excision’s history at EDC Las Vegas. The fire marshal was on site and on the mic asking us to keep backing up. All stage lights were on and everyone was uncertain if the show would continue.
Once the flames were contained and the smoke was clearing, the fire marshal got on the mic again. “I need you all to take baby steps forward. Do not run.” With a crowd of headbangers, those statements don’t mean much, so on repeat, “Baby steps, I said, baby steps – You sir, I said baby steps. Everyone say it with me, baby steps.”
Lines were drawn and a safe distance from the remnants of the fire was determined before Zeds Dead could begin. They doubled down on the lasers and smoke and created a set that none of us would forget.
We stayed for Downlink and Space Laces before calling a night. Both sets had us just staring at the visuals on-screen. Spiraling fractals and designs along with their wub filled music made for the perfect ending to the second day.
It was finally the last day of Lost Lands and we wanted to make the most of it. I was impressed with my camp’s resolve to make it to Excision’s Detox set.
The lines for showers and bathrooms got excessively long every day. They extended from their location all the way down to the main path, but with such a reasonable price (under ten bucks), they were cheaper than ice. By the time 4:20 rolled around, we were re-packed, re-parked, re-grouped, and re-entering the venue.
Luckily the weather all weekend had been perfect: breezy, in the 70’s with cloud coverage, it was as if Mother Nature herself had wanted to headbang with us.
Our newly made friends Brianna, Brielle, and Stephen had also joined the crew and we were now rolling twelve people deep. We created the dreaded backpack pile for the set and enjoyed one of the best decompression sets you could have expected at a headbangers festival. Afterward, Dion Timmer re-centered our energies and brought us back to the hardest dancing of the day.
As I wandered through the crowd fanning people, I came across a guy clad in solid blue from head to shorts. I fanned him and he complimented my Zelda hat. We struck up a conversation and before I knew it, I heard, “Hey! No way!” My friend Jesse knew him. Bo had also come from Michigan and had apparently met Jesse about a week ago at a tailgate. If that didn’t scream small Midwest world, I don’t know what did. He was by himself and joined us for the rest of the night.
We went from Phiso to Liquid Stranger to REZZ, each crazier than the last. Even without pyrotechnics, REZZ’s show was lit. Her manipulation music is a whole other ball game when heard on PK speakers.
I had been dying to see Virtual Riot for the longest time and now to see him b2b with Barely Alive was my chance and I was beyond stoked.
The set ended up being pure magic and even Datsik came out to support the b2b. We went back to the main stage to catch the end of Illenium, walking into the sea of tears as his melodic bass and beautiful remixes brought out the crowd’s emotions.
Those tears would dry up quickly as the crowd slammed back into headbanging for Excision b2b Datsik. We were breaking our necks once again and were emotional at the end when he began thanking everyone who made the weekend possible. Boogie T closed out the night at Lost Lands. I had never seen him before but will most assuredly be catching at his next show in SoCal.
We slowly walked out of the venue scarcely being able to process everything that had happened over the three days at Lost Lands.
The production value at Lost Lands blew us all away, and the music floored us and rocked us to our cores. The people were beautiful both inside and out; we had created bonds and friends that rivaled a “transformational festival.” This event went above and beyond the baseline and never have I seen a festival so reactive or responsive.
Small things like inviting a meetup of attendees into the photo pit show attention to detail and love of your guests on a level that should be admired by other production companies. This was the first year and while I’m sure many of the staff felt lost much of the time, they handled it with grace and dignity that deserves praise.
If you only do one festival next year, I would highly recommend you set aside your time and money for Lost Lands.
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Featured Photo Credit: Carlos Lopez