Over the past few years, Let It Roll in the Czech Republic has become known as the biggest drum & bass festival in the world, and with good reason. With massive lineups, art cars, ancillary shows and multiple stages, it’s basically Coachella for D&B heads. Thousands of US bassheads make the trek yearly to Let It Roll in the summer to get their fill of D&B; one can basically see all the top artists of the world in one blowout long weekend. No one would argue this massive party isn’t worth the trek.
The Let It Roll winter festival has been on just as long as the now main summer show, as they both started in the clubs in Prague in 2008 but, although it sells out every year and it a staple for European heads, it may be lesser known to US partiers. It’s nonetheless spectacular, however, and there are a number of reasons Let It Roll winter is also worth the trip.
The opening show: Let It Roll is well-known for its opening spectaculars each year at the summer festie, and winter’s show is just as good. This year when LIR descended on Prague, the line of fans was around the block early to see the opening show and it didn’t disappoint. With a heavy tribal theme in effect for 2020, the show included dancers, sick visuals, fireballs whipping off the stage and some intense music with a call to “awaken the sleeping gods” of bass.
The lineup: LIR winter is a one-stage affair but it’s nonetheless packed with D&B heroes from all over and covers the spectrum of subgenres. This year, for example, Andy C and Wilkinson headlined Friday and Saturday, respectively and they were flanked by the likes of The Prototypes, Hybrid Minds, Black Sun Empire, Prolix, Kasra, Kanine, Friction, Kove and Turno. Local heroes Forbidden Society and Rido also bookended Saturday’s festivities, showing that the Czech Republic isn’t just a venue for good D&B, it’s a progenitor.
The venue: Winter festivals are tricky in Europe of course, because largely they can’t be outdoors. While winters in Czechia tend to be on the milder side, promoters don’t want to take the chance so they found a venue right downtown that worked perfectly this year. Well-structured and looking a bit like the Thunderdome, revelers could dance on the main floor or on one of the mezzanines. Crowds at LIR tend to be a little crazy but traffic seemed to flow easily and everyone stayed safe.
The stage design: With only one set to design in the winter show, the Let It Roll team really go out. This year the stage was set with lush, sort of tribal decor and flanked by two giant totems whose eyes not only glowed and moved but were, in fact, LED displays so they changed color, size and structure; sometimes they looked human, other times like animals and still others, not of this world. The afore-mentioned fireballs were set off throughout the show along with an impressive laser show and the tribal theme extended out into the crowd with vines hanging from the ceiling. It made for a heady, Bacchanalian festival that impressed as much with sight as with sound.
The City: Prague is sincerely one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is a functional ancient city, with almost every building and hotel having some kind of history. During the day, partiers literally needed walk no further than five minutes from the venue to run smack into a medieval cathedrals and with safe, easy public transport, lots of other wonders are easy to access as well, like the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and the city’s multiple famous museums.
With Let It Roll winter in the can this year, those who attended can now only sigh and look forward to the summer festival July 30-August 1 but that’s nothing to sneeze at, as the lineup this year may possibly be the biggest one. Heads in Europe can also find Let It Roll on tour to bridge the gap but for US punters, even with the massive lineup of summer, once per year may not be enough. With less crowding, fresh visuals and a lineup that’s insane for a one-stage party, it’s definitely time for die hard D&B fans to “Let It Roll” on into winter and not miss out on the best place for drum & bass.
For tickets and info to the LIR on tour and summer Let It Roll festival, visit the LIR website. Also be sure to check out the D&BArena YouTube channel for Kanine’s live set from this year’s winter festival, with more to come.