There are certain characters in dance music that have earned their stripes, as well as the mutual love and respect from its followers. Excitable BBC Radio One mainstay and sometime presenter, Annie Mac, is one of them, so visiting her festival, Lost and Found, was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Taking place on the first May bank holiday this year, it welcomed around 8,000 dancefloor hungry punters to Malta, transforming the coastal resort of Buggiba into haven of sun, sea and sounds, and placing the country firmly on the growing map of overseas clubbing destinations.
The lineup spanned numerous genres, inviting a mixed crowd that’s reflective of Annie’s eclectic radio presence. Highlights included Patrick Topping, Mike Skinner, Bicep, Kölsch, Jamie XX and Peggy Gou, to name just a few. A noticeable factor too was that certain names were scattered multiple times throughout the line-up which at first seemed unnecessary, but later made perfect sense.
Without a central, all containing festival site to accommodate it, Lost and Found is dispersed across various venues, with the crowd residing in villas, hotels and flats in Buggiba and the surrounding St Paul’s Bay.
As well as Uno, the compact, multi-stage, open air nightclub used as the evening location, a weekender wristband gains entry to the daytime pool parties at the heavenly beach club, Cafe Del Mar. ‘Top up’ raves are also on offer for those not afraid to sweat in the heat, comprising of boat, beach and castle excursions. However, even without purchasing the additional raving experiences, most artists playing there could also be seen elsewhere throughout the weekend, ensuring no one missed out on catching their favourite act.
Music at the four day long event officially began on Thursday’s opening party. Though many early arrivals were a little weary from the pre party the night before, spirits were not dampened and anticipation was high. We were sad to learn that the Martinez Brothers couldn’t make the opening night, but extended sets from Annie Mac and Denis Sulta kept us grooving – two names, faces and record collections that would become omnipresent throughout the weekend.
Sulta’s opening offering included smile provoking floor fillers such as Kylie Minogue's 'Love at First Sight' (sparking a renewed appreciation for the Aussie queen from the crowd), juxtaposing with the equally as anthemic 'Trouble With Me' by Black Legend. With this, the tone was set, and arguably one that was echoed throughout - here was the time to not take clubbing too seriously, enjoying it at its rowdy, ridiculous, hands in the air and sore feet best.
Friday saw the sun shine in Malta after a previously overcast sky, so we took full advance of the day’s pool party on offer, listening to performances from Ms Banks, Shola Ama and The Heatwave before Mike Skinner arrived for his first set of the weekend. Filled with beats, bass and a large helping of garage it was the perfect soundtrack to the idyllic setting Cafe Del Mar and it's sea view infinity pool provided.
By night we took our first trip on the shuttle bus to Uno, which was more intimate than we’d expected, in the best possible way. Though three open-air stages and one dark ‘n’ dirty club were on offer, each highlighted with its own lighting display, the layout wasn’t intimidating or difficult to navigate, making it easy to head between the four and settle where your ears pricked up. Ours did to the sound of Four Tet as he drew us in to the Palace with his remix of Bicep's 'Opal', continuing with a varied journey that took us from 'Demdike Stare', through to warped acid cuts, before ending beautifully at James Holden’s remix of Nathan Fake’s 'The Sky Was Pink', a firm festival favourite.
Saturday daytime saw us at the castle rave which was relocated at the last minute, and gave us an unexpected detour to the capital city, Valletta. Upon entry there was no escape from the relentless heat which was matched by the equally as ruthless cuts coming from Heidi when we arrived. Compared to her bouncy set on the Pyramid stage last night, things were turned up a level as she played her battle cry to the disco-dancing troupes.
Following on from the off-site boogie and evening filled with Shanti Celeste, Artwork, Jackmaster and Peggy Gou, Sunday started slow and took us back to Cafe Del Mar for some poolside grooves. Here, Mall Grab, Denis Sulta and Mella Dee were far from winding down, taking over from Annie Mac and closing the pool with a B2B2B session – one that continued later that evening.
Tracks like Viers – 'Let My Mind Breathe', combined with the ice cannons that Sulta was let loose on, injected us with the energy needed to see off the final night with a bang. That it did, as we found ourselves jumping away the final few hours of the event at the Tropical stage to a ridiculous selection from My Nu Leng, seamlessly blending in euphoric classics such as Chase & Status' 'Blind Faith' amongst hard-hitting drum and bass rumbles.
Once over, the days after the festival are somewhat quieter compared to the previous weekend, and the influence Annie has had on the concentrated area for this time is clear. We met an equal amount of dedicated followers and those new to Lost and Found while here, and after witnessing the overwhelming joy it provoked, we’re sure many will be continuing the trend in ’19. With the perfect mixture of genres but united by a love of the groove, it’s a fun and sun filled clubber’s delight.