Festival season is in full bloom. Our newsfeeds are awash with glitter, mud, shaky and distorted videos filmed in the middle of fields and tales of debauchery and musical wonder accompanying them. It’s summer in the UK: another day, another festival, right? Not quite…
For any avid festival goer there’s that one event that stands out from the rest every year; one that leaves an imprint so deep you find yourself telling just about anyone who’ll listen how good it was. For us, that event was Let It Roll, celebrating their 10th year in the game in serious style.
Picture this: You’re floating between 9 mind-blowing stages that look like they could come to life and transport you to a parallel universe at any given moment, pumping world-class D&B over three days in the middle of an abandoned airfield. 20K+ like-minded travellers from across the globe join you on the same musical journey, with over 300 artists providing the on-point soundtrack… Welcome to the biggest drum & bass festival in the world.
We had the opportunity to once again run wild through Milovice’s abandoned airfield, an opportunity we welcomed with open arms, and one that left us positively stunned once again. This isn’t your average festival. It’s one that floors you in so many ways it’s guaranteed to leave you promising your return.
We’ve just about recovered from the experience, having slept for a good portion of a week, and spent the rest staring out a window thinking about 5 reasons why Let It Roll is still one of the best D&B festivals in the world… Get to know.
The stages will bowl you over
There are run of the mill festival stages, and then there are stages so impressive you approach them slowly with your mouth slightly ajar, studying them as though you’re eyeing off a 15th century cathedral for the first time. This year Let It Roll once again went full ham on the stage production, making sure every dedicated corner of Milovice airfield had something to make you go “ooooh”, “ahhh” and “f*&k off!!!!” From the industrial vibes of the Factory Stage, gently spewing smoke and fire, looking like your local steel mill casually grew a fat sound system and donned some impressive LED lights…
…To the main stage; the sleeping giant that doesn’t come to life until the second night of the festival, lurking in the background on day one as they preview the lights and make you do a double take from across the airfield.
There’s a reason they dedicate the second night for the opening ceremony. Seeing that main stage wake from its slumber is truly spectacular, and deserves its own show. The anticipation of it all, as well as seeing the beast in the distance adds an air of mystery to it all, and makes for a helluva crescendo when you see it in all its glory. This year’s theme was Rise of the Immortals, with the main stage resembling a giant transformer, covered in remarkable lighting and a display of impressive lasers. Just look at it…
The beauty of this festival, however, is that everywhere you go is another impressive set up, so it’s not just about the ‘main’ attractions. The Madhouse stage which hosted label takeovers from the likes of Critical, Eatbrain and Shogun Audio housed 3 impressive looking robot-figures that made you feel about 3 feet tall, with seriously impressive lighting rigs to boot…
The Port stage, which hosted nights from Symmetry, Dispatch and Med School, had visuals so crisp they took you right into them. And let’s not forget the setting of some of the stages, like the Hangar which was the only stage to be pumping D&B 24-hours a day, set in an actual aircraft hangar…
Unique, bold, awe-inspiring. The attention to detail and scale of production at Let It Roll is second to none.
The opening ceremony
With the festival in its 10th year we expected the highly-anticipated opening ceremony to be special, and it certainly delivered. Featuring a hard-hitting original soundtrack provided by the legendary Calyx & TeeBee, and a narrative voiced by Mark of June Miller setting the scene for the ‘Rise of the Immortals’ concept, this year’s opening ceremony left us covered in goosebumps as the main stage came to life and showed us what it was capable of. Pyrotechnics, lasers, a light-show on steroids – the whole shebang.
There’s something next-level about dedicating a portion of a festival to the opening of the main stage… It left us feeling positively hype, and set us up for an incredible rest of the festival.
It’s a community vibe
When heading to an event in a big group there’s nothing worse than spending 60% of your festival experience waiting for people in queues for food and/or loos, hearing the distant rumble of one of your favourite basslines in said queue, or being dragged to an act you’re not really that keen on catching. But there’s also something a bit daunting about the prospect of being left on your own in a huge festival crowd… Thankfully Let It Roll is an accommodating place, and with everyone there on the same D&B tip, as well as the stages thoughtfully arranged and easy to bounce between, this prospect seemed a little less daunting.
I decided to go it alone on day 2, immersing myself in the festival and sticking to my own schedule, on a mission to see as much as I possibly could. I managed to inadvertently attract various like-minded characters and crews on my solo quest, all of whom were attracted with a simple exchange of a bassface or a cheeky gun-finger salute, the official greeting of the festival.
D&B crowds really are a lovely bunch, and when you set them all free in a festival 100% dedicated to the genre, the positive energy is truly infectious. The beauty of events like this is that you’re likely to find artists in the crowd enjoying the festival themselves. I bumped into a particularly jolly Ant TC1 enjoying himself amongst the crowd in the Dispatch tent, as well as Riya, Ed:It, Benny L and more all on a vibe, in their natural habitat…
Don’t be afraid to go rogue. Chances are you’ll meet some proper characters and have a richer festival experience.
There’s something for everyone
Whether you came purely for the bangers or to tuck yourself away in a dark corner with your head down, bassface engaged, Let It Roll has you covered.
For a true D&B enthusiast it’s a proper sonic playground, where you can jump from seeing LTJ Bukem on the main stage at sunset (swoon), to seeing the likes of Randall, Alix Perez, Skeptical, Enei, Nymfo and Anile rolling it out in the murky confines of one of the various tents, on to Shimon B2B Benny L, then back to DJ Hype B2B Hazard tearing up the main stage, followed by Andy C triple dropping the most complex of tunes whilst juggling flaming vinyl on the side, then to Original Sin to take you back to your roots. All this alongside a buzzing live stage which featured outstanding performances from the London Elektricity Big Band, Riya and more.
This is the kind of setting where young’uns get a proper education, and the most experienced of heads get reminded why they fell in love with this music in the first place.
They’re conscious about their carbon footprint
Think about the mess left behind when you have a few people over for a party… Now multiply that by over 20K and add 9 stage builds, transport and more to the fold… It’s naïve to think the only damage done after a festival is to our liver and bank accounts. This year the organisers at Let It Roll were more conscious about their impact on the environment than ever before, implementing an efficient recycling system at the festival, ensuring every visitor was given a waste bag upon entry, offering a tent recycling option at the info stand to minimise the waste left behind, and of course bringing back the eco cups, which doubled up as a wicked souvenir. Working together with Czech company Augiášův chlév, they ensured all waste was sorted and recycled efficiently and responsibly, and hosted an enlightening info session at the Beats Evolution Conference stand at the festival, outlining their ongoing mission to be eco friendly. Take heed other festivals: More of this please!
Till next year Let It Roll… Stay cool.
Early bird tickets for 2018 are now available – get them here
Photo credits: Jakub Doležal, Marius Sachtikus, Petr Klapper