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A unique British-Maltese collaboration

Photos: Luke Dyson

Photos: Luke Dyson

Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found recently got partygoers from Malta and beyond raving yet again, albeit not without some controversy. Johnathan Cilia reviews this year’s eclectic offering.

Castle raves, boat parties, pool parties and four days of the hottest names in UK music right now – Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found 2017 has come and gone a while ago. Annie Mac, the BBC Radio 1 DJ, brought her selection of top UK musicians and producers in house, techno, grime and bass music. Her eponymous festival mixes UK music with idyllic Maltese locations and local musicians to create a unique British-Maltese collaboration that is enjoyed by both Maltese and foreigners.

This year’s edition covered a lot of genres and modern styles from the UK scene, with a majority of DJs coming from the house scene, and the grime scene was also well represented. While there was an opening party on Wednesday evening for the partygoers who had already made it to Malta, featuring some of the billed DJs like Switch and Sian Bennett, it was on the Thursday that the festival really began.

Things kicked off in style at Cafe Del Mar from noon on Thursday till 2am on Friday morning, bringing in a mixture of house and chill vibes, ending with an Armand Van Helden B2B Jackmaster set to give Lost and Founders a taste of what was to come in the next three days.

Friday

Over 40 different artists performed over four stages, and a boat party, on the first proper day of the festival at the main site, Uno Village. Featuring a selection of great performers, including a live performance by local favourite Fatima Yamaha, over the multiple stages, the Tropicana stage especially offered the audience a take on what’s going on in grime music right now.

Things really kicked off with Maximum’s set. Maximum, the DJ of Boy Better Boy, the premier UK grime collective around right now, ran through a slew of the group’s hits, with hits like Skepta’s It Ain’t Safe causing serious jumpage. Maximum was followed by the up-and-coming Dave, whose conscious grime has been making waves recently. At one point during his set, Dave pulled a fan on stage to rap alongside him – only for the fan to rap Dave’s verses perfectly, to his amusement and the crowd’s cheers.

BBC DJ Charlie Sloth returned this year again to go through all the urban hits of the last few years. As one of the main hip hop/grime BBC DJs, Charlie knew exactly what songs the crowd knew and loved – most of them got their new music from his show anyway. Hits from Drake, Migos and Skepta, as well as a bit of drum ’n’ bass, kept the crowd moving and singing during his set.

However, he was just warming up for the man everyone was hyped to see: Giggs. The London rapper has been on fire recently, with tracks like Lock Doh and Whippin’ Excursion becoming grime anthems, and the Tropicana stage quickly became crowded before he was to come on.

For those looking for a more urban/grime-influenced Saturday afternoon, the obvious choice was the pool party

With a packed crowd and his lyrics on everyone’s lips, Giggs came out in a red jacket, his trademark grin and his low raspy voice set to go. The crowd knew the words, and he easily whipped everyone into a frenzy. Older tracks like Look What The Cat Dragged In, as well as his recent feature on Drake’s KMT, brought the energy as expected.

Giggs was immediately followed by garage duo My Nu Leng throwing down a B2B set with Redlight. Their set started off with very little aplomb, with a house remix of Migos Bad and Boujee, with most of the crowd wondering if the garage masters had started or a backing CD was playing. But they quickly warmed up, mixing between tracks at a quick pace, and even throwing in some curve balls, like a dubplate thrown on top of RL Grime’s Scylla, which went down well. Their back-to-back set showcased what sounds are in vogue in modern garage, with the energetic younger cousin of house reminding everyone of its longevity and popularity.

Saturday

Festival-goers headed to the Castle Rave at the Red Tower – a location that became steeped in controversy after another event organiser was then refused a permit to hold a similar event there – to join Annie Mac and Eats Everything for a chilled Saturday afternoon partying near a castle in the middle of the Mediterranean; others headed to the boat party to enjoy the melodic sounds of Dusky and Denis Sulta. For those looking for a more urban/grime-influenced Saturday afternoon, the obvious choice was the pool party, where rapper AJ Tracey got the crowd to lose it to tracks like Pasta, as well as having UK Bass represented by Flava D, Toddla T and Coco. While festival-goers were in hysterics when they spotted a man dressed in an accurate Jesus costume enjoying himself at the festival, Saturday night actually featured a six-hour set by J.E.S.u.S – that is, Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Seth Trexlor und Skream. These DJs took over the main stage all night, mixing techno with tech-house, classic garage and the slightest touch of disco. Soulection, the R&B-influenced nostalgic smooth melody collective that have been making waves recently, concocted a sexy and sensual set at the intimate Factory stage, while on the Tropicana stage TQD (Royal T, DJ Q, and Flava D) slayed with up-tempo garage, beyond the 120 - 128 BPM range most of the other stages were to be found in.

Sunday

Sunday’s lineup was very eclectic, with a wide range of genres being represented on the different stages. One the main stage, the Latino-inspired thumping house of Mele’ had the crowd moving, and when The Black Madonna took the stage right after, she kept things moving in a similar vein.

For many, seeing grime don D Double E – one of the originators of the style – perform was more than enough. But, when the rapper headed down into the crowd after his set for pictures, many fans had their weekend made. Royal T returned to show us all what the intersection between dubstep and garage looks like, and night bass originator Chris Lorenzo delivered an incredible set, showcasing a mixture of UK and US future bass music that got the crowd jumping and singing along.

MJ Cole and Jack Swift took care of the Pyramid stage with classic house driven by subtle melodies, providing a nice change to the vocal-driven house provided by other house DJs, which Andrea Oliva following them with a similar style, albeit with much chunkier bass. The Factory stage was ground zero for old school rave sets, with Randall playing an old school rave set the likes of which probably birthed The Prodigy. He was followed up by Altern8, who mixed old school rave with soaring house vocals straight out of the early 1990s.

As the festival ended for another year, the unique mixture of Brits in full-on festival wear, niche-genre Maltese fans, and random internationals leaving Uno Village made for a great sight – but it was the background music of various mainstream and underground genres that really makes the festival. With Lost and Found continuing to represent both what’s hot, as well as showcasing what they think is going to be hot, the festival will cement its place in the Maltese calendar as a must-attend for fans of modern UK music – in all its forms.

Early bird tickets for Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found 2018 are on sale now. The festival will take place on May 3-6, 2018. Tickets are available online.

www.lostandfoundfestival.com

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