Review: Citadel Festival 2017

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80%
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Awesome

What better way to spend an afternoon in East London than with Foals, fun activities and good food?

Citadel Festival returned to London’s Victoria Park last weekend for a third year, boasting a bigger and better line-up of music and activities than ever before, as well as something British music festivals rarely have – good weather.

British rock band Foals headlined the day with a glorious set crowd-pleasing set, treating the audience many of their well-known hits such as ‘Inhaler’ and ‘My Number’. However, more hardcore fans will have left with smiles on their faces as the band chose to delve into their extensive back catalogue of rarer album tracks, played great rare cuts alongside festival favourites. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis had the crowd in the palm of his hand, whipping them into a frenzy with every chorus until the show culminated in an explosion of streamers and confetti. Foals more than lived up to their hype and rivalled previous big-name Citadel headliners such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Ben Howard and Sigur Ros.

The buzz was not only around the festival’s esteemed headliner, but around Citadel’s showcase of hotly-tipped up-and-coming musicians earlier in the day. Maggie Rogers played an early slot to a packed main stage; though she has only released one EP in her short career so far, the crowd sang and danced to every one of her electro-folk infused pop songs. Rogers was followed by experienced British singer-songwriter Laura Marling, who brought the feminist narrative of her new album Semper Femina to the Citadel stage. The appreciative audience was a testament to both Marling’s talent and Citadel’s attentive audience, something not always found at British music festivals.

Musical explorations extended to the festival’s smaller stages. There was much hype around A Blaze Of Feather, an unknown name that appeared on many festival lie-ups this summer. The band turned out to be a collaboration project between Ben Howard and his touring musicians, led by Mickey Smith. Their special show charmed a small audience with emotionally deep yet summery guitar music, which could not have suited the festival more. Later Michael Kiwanuka later brought the house down with his headline slot on the Communion stage, his bluesy anthems being the surprise of the day for many.

Curated stages from big industry names such as Communion, DIY, Clash and Last.fm meant that Citadel’s biggest draw was always going to be its genre-spanning line up; at few other day festivals could you walk from one stage with the face-melting desert rock of Twin Peaks, to another with the carefully considered electronics of Bonobo. Though it would have been great if electronic music was greater represented towards the end of the festival, the lack of ‘nightlife’ at Citadel was to be expected due to the early curfew time of inner-city festivals. Organisers obviously understood this as tickets were being sold for an official afterparty at the nearby Village Underground featuring a Bonobo DJ set, meaning not all attendees had to resign themselves to an early night.

Aside from music, many enjoyed the wide variety of activities on offer. Walking past 50 or so festival-goers taking part in an intensive dance workout to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ brought a smile to many faces, as did the extensive line up of comedy. This is becoming increasingly present at UK music festivals, and Citadel’s comedy provided a more laid-back alternative to the some of the festival’s music. If workouts and well-being aren’t your thing then perhaps the extensively-advertised ‘gourmet-festival’ food and drink would have you excited. The many stalls around the site representing many countries and continents certainly lived up to their billing, the food matching the high quality of music on offer.

Sunny weather is good medicine for any music festival, getting its crowds dancing, drinking and taking advantage of all the festival has to offer. However, Citadel’s crowd would have been doing this rain or shine thanks to the festival’s galaxy of programming; every musical taste was catered for, every activity offered and every person stuffed with good food and drink. Citadel somehow squeezes a full weekend festival into a single Sunday afternoon.

Check out the Citadel website to find tickets for next year.

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