Preview // La Route du Rock – The Perfect Festival
Nothing quite beats a festival. It’s a magical few days in the sun (fingers crossed) with your best mates and great music. Britain undoubtedly has some fantastic summer festivals on offer. Glastonbury, for example, has grown into one of the world’s largest and most respected live music events. This year Stormzy had “the best night of [his] life”, Loyle Carner read a poem for his mum and Slowthai performed in just his pants – truly a celebration of the very best of British culture.
With festival season firmly upon us, I thought I might make a summer suggestion to our more adventurous readers looking further afield for their festival fix. Events such as Sziget and Primavera attract thousands of Brits each year, often promising outrageously good line-ups coupled with more enticing climatic conditions than we have the fortune to experience back home. But one festival seems to get overlooked year after year. La Route du Rock was born in 1991 in the historic walled town of Saint Malo on the north coast of Brittany. In its early years, the festival, organised by Rock Tympans, a Rennes-based association, attracted small crowds in concert halls and clubs in Saint Malo. After moving to the fort de Saint-Père, located in the countryside just outside the town, the festival really began to gain traction. From ‘95 to ‘96, attendance trebled, as more and more festival-goers fell for its charms: Camping in just-harvested corn fields, spending the day on the golden sands of Saint Malo, watching contemporary live music in an 18th century fortress well into the night…
But the beauty of La Route du Rock goes beyond the dreamy scenery and laid-back atmosphere. The music is, of course, the main event. With two stages – one big and one small – and a single headliner each night, it feels contained, but not restrained, with around 30,000 estimated punters in recent years. Just looking back through the festival’s previous line-ups gives a sense that the music too is serious business. Blur in 1999, Pulp in 2001, The Cure and Sonic Youth in 2005 – just some of the big names that graced the festival in its early years. My first time was in 2011, at the tender age of 13. Fleet Foxes, Colin Stetson and Dan Deacon were the highlights from that first night. Since then, I’ve seen such acts as Caribou, Patti Smith, Portishead, The XX and Future Islands. However, the most exciting part about the lineups isn’t their headliners, but rather those further down the billing – Battles, Suuns, Savages – I could go on… So many lesser known acts turn up at La Route du Rock and completely take your breath away.
This year’s lineup features Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Metronomy, Idles, and Black Midi, to name but a few of the talented and musically diverse groups on offer. Tickets are on sale for just under £100 for the 3 days including camping and transport, and the overnight ferry (also pretty cheap) from Portsmouth to Saint Malo is the perfect way to begin the festivities, sailing off into the sunset.
A festival is a place to escape to. It’s something which exists in its own little bubble, separate from the real world. So, if you fancy getting out there this summer and experiencing something new, La Route du Rock is the place to be. I hope to see you all there!
More information and tickets can be found on the festival’s official website: https://www.laroutedurock.com/