Let it Roll 2018
It’s no secret that the drum and bass scene in the U.S. is far from mainstream.
The style is still growing on American ears, which are used to catchy pop and house music. Major festivals will sometimes feature drum and bass artists on a side stage, perhaps mixed in with dubstep and other bass performers, but there are few opportunities for true junglists to celebrate their religion in a venue larger than a nightclub or park.
In Europe, however, the drum and bass scene is thriving and production value is clearly peaking. This is all reflected in the rise of the Let It Roll Open Air Festival, the world’s largest drum and bass gathering.
Let It Roll took place August 3-5 on a long-abandoned military airstrip in Milovice, about 40 kilometers from Prague in the Czech Republic. For bass lovers from all over the world, the festival is something of a pilgrimage as it features hardly any other genres of music–in short, the event is pure, undiluted musical speed.
We traveled to Let It Roll from the U.S. and were pleasantly surprised to find an organized, aesthetically pleasing and absolutely wild party. The stages and overall experiences were on par with the major events in the U.S., but with an infinitely better musical lineup stacked with pretty much all the major drum and bass producers.
This year was the show’s ten year anniversary, and that warranted the biggest, loudest stage production yet. A record 80,000 attendees came ready to rock, step, and jump their way through three days of pure drum and bass. Each stage followed the show’s central story and theme of giant robots who had once been men, but who had destroyed their home planet.
Camping was available in the grassy fields directly outside of the festival gates. As with many festivals around the world, the camping sections can become just as much of a party as the rave itself. Since we had sprung for the luxurious “Comfort Camp” we weren’t expecting the prison showers, but in the end, that is all part of the festival experience. Daytime tunes and activities were hosted onsite and included yoga, drum workouts, and a d&b step competition—a nice touch for those that could brave the hot sun and be awake after partying until six in the morning.
The beauty of Let It Roll is that there are dozens of flavors of drum and bass represented. Whether you enjoy hardcore, neurofunk, tech, or liquid, there was a stage for you hosting both big and rising stars. The main stage was beautiful, intimidating, heavily Instagrammed, and featured all the big headliners as well as a mind-blowing opening ceremony composed by Calyx & TeeBee.
Fans of Hospital and RAM Records could jump at the Factory Stage. Eatbrain, Critical Music and Shogun Audio each hosted their own lineups on the visually immersive Madhouse Stage. Fans of the underground, dark liquid sounds, and more hardcore rhythms could dance or relax in the Port, Underworld, and Shredder stages. The Hangar Stage, literally built in an old hangar tunnel, was open after-hours for the truly insane. There was even a techno tent, featuring some of the top Czech DJs, for attendees who wanted to slow things down a bit.
Overall Let It Roll was the most fun, most raging, and somehow most laid back festival I have ever attended. We made friends from all over Europe, and even some from our own city! Nobody even got mad at me for sleeping in the grass by the halfpipe skating competition. Drugs are practically decriminalized in the Czech Republic, so security was lax, and you could pretty casually puff on a joint with new friends at any point during the festival. The beer is also cheaper than water, which didn’t hurt the party aspect.
This show also has a winter installment every February (indoors and also in Prague), and if you’re able to spend a few days in Prague before and after either festival, there are plenty of pre- and post- parties to attend. The culture of Let It Roll will go home with each attendee and hopefully continue to help push the drum and bass community forward.
Believe it or not, tickets are already on pre-order for Let It Roll Open Air 2018. If you really love drum and bass music, consider this your chance to experience it on a grand scale among some amazing people, food, culture, and vibes.