Festival Review: Lost Village Festival England

What do you get when one of our Aussie festival-heads is dumped into an English festival as the only Australian? A weekend of cross-cultural learning and reflection on Australian and English identities. This is a reflection on the Brit vs. Aussie humour, slang, grave diggers, mermaids and a banging dance line-up in Lincolnshire, England.

Yes, we both speak English, and yes, some are related to our English ancestors who really fucked up by stealing something as small as a handkerchief and consequently were shipped off to the Land Down Under to learn their lesson. While some of us are related, speak the same language and have the same Queen, little did we know just how much being the only Australian in a group of English boys at a British festival would make us realise how different we really are.

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We found ourselves recently at Lost Village Festival in Lincolnshire, England. A lot of Aussie festival-goers don’t usually bother to travel to England for festivals because it is assumed that it will be the same as Australia, besides the English obsession with cocaine and the rumour that their fish and chips shit all over ours. However, the presence of an Aussie meant that we discovered that we are actually quite different.

The line-up was truly a dream for any dance music fan, with acts like Leon Vynehall, Roman Flugal, KiNK, Âme, Floating Points, Joy Orbison, Ben UFO, Huxley, Ben Pearce, Tom Trago… OMG, stop us now. That’s not even half of the best acts.

Only in its second year, Lost Village Festival really went an extra mile to cover the entire festival space in décor that truly invigorated the senses of sight and sound, on and off the stage. They even had paid actors to dress up as creepy mermaids, dead people, grave diggers and zombies who we swear were just paid to wig people out. The festival really attempted to give punters the feeling that they were ‘lost’, causing a lot of people to actually become quite confused as to which stage was which due to there being a lack of signage and general understanding of how to find your way around the place. In fact, rumour even has it that Tom Trago and Ben Pearce both got lost for their own sets.

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When we did manage to find the right stage at the right time, the stage set-ups were extraordinary. We spent Friday afternoon sitting behind the wheel of a Voltswagen Beetle at an old shack while listening to drum and bass, Saturday dancing at an abandoned chapel to Joy Orbison, and Sunday watching pyrotechnics producing purple smoke while Horse Meat Disco pumped Prince.

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While we could all agree on how good the music was, confusion remained between our use of language. We discovered that Australian English is more of a dialect than an accent in comparison to England’s own English. While we ‘kick-on’, they ‘after-jam’; there are no ‘baggies’, just ‘wraps’; they don’t have ‘durries’, they have ‘ciggies’; it’s a ‘lash’, not a ‘root’ and they’ve never heard of the word or concept of having a ‘doof stick’ at a festival.   

What we found with the English people was that they actually seemed to be complaining and judging nearly everything. The sound wasn’t good enough, the sun was too hot, the shade was too cold. At so many points we found ourselves stopping to ask our English friends, “Are you enjoying yourself?” to which they seemed shocked at the question, replying, “What? Of course we are! What makes you think we’re not?” We found ourselves wondering how the Brits could be having such a great time if the only things going through their heads were actually quite negative? They were constantly bagging out the rowdy Geordie Shore Northerners, the Lads, and basically anyone in their immediate view.

But if we can reflect for a moment on Britain’s best comedians… think about Dylan Moran of Black Books; think about Carl Pilkington of Idiot Abroad; think about Ricky Gervais. The Brits have a very, very, cynical sense of humour. It seemed that they were having a shit one. But the way of British comedy is to actually complain and judge everything and that’s how you have a really great time.

Which got us thinking… what makes our humour so different? Russell Coight is rolling another car in a ditch and setting something on fire in the Aussie outback. Kath and Kim and Chris Lilley are imitating some of Australia’s most accurately represented residents. Carl Barron is reminding us about how smart arse our language is as he quotes: “You ask someone how they are in Australia, they don’t tell you how they are, they tell you how they’re not! You’ve gotta guess the rest.”

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“G’day mate, how ya going?”
“Yeah, not bad!”
“What have you been up to?”
“Aw, not much.”
“How much was that?”
“Na, wasn’t cheap.”
“Where is this place?”
“Oh, it’s not far.”

We Australians know how to take the piss out of ourselves better than anyone else can, while the Brits take the piss out of everyone else. We actually had to pull our friends aside and say, “Are you sure you’re okay?” Our British friends laughed and said, “It’s pretty shit!” and whisper, “But we’re actually having a really great time!”

Rowdy Northerners competed to see who could do more push ups than each other while screaming over the top of Bicep. Lads bellowed together to the melody of Fatima Yamaha’s ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ so loud that it was louder than the noises Yamaha was producing. There definitely were some things to be cynical about. But there were also some amazing things, including some legend punters worth pointing out to the Brits that truly represented what Australian humour is all about. Our favourite punter over the weekend that demonstrated the Aussie humour definitely had to be ‘Pizza Box Head Guy’, who wore a pizza box on his head the entire weekend. He became a lesson for the boys; don’t take the piss out of others, and don’t be as judgemental. Put a pizza box on your head and show the world that you don’t give a fuck. Take the piss out of yourself. Pizza Box Head Guy didn’t even give a fuck when he was having a conversation with the police.

By the end of the weekend, something had changed in the Brits; they started being less cynical, they started noticing how good the vibes were at the festival, and they even noticed how much more positive they were being. Gratitude and positivity poured out of their sweaty pores from the English sun that spontaneously came out that weekend.

Who knew that dumping an Aussie festival-head in the middle of a festival in England would change lives.

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Ham Soward

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