Only in London can you put up a one-day festival on a Sunday and have it packed to the brim with fully festival-attired party goers willing to callously forget their Monday morning duties in favour of a stellar line up of music.
It was glitter-encrusted faces and denim cut-off shorts galore for a truly diverse cross section of music genres, shows and activities: from the jazz, soul and gospel-inspired sounds of JJ Soulx, a modern slant on reggae with Backbeat Soundsystem, and instrument and electronic hybrid, the Future Dub project, at the Bandstand, to Malian Ouomou Sangare at the Kasbah with Clash and last.fm; plus the likes of comedian Shappi Khorsandi at Sunday Paper Lives, mass yoga at Cloud Nine and a Dancehall workout with Paradigmz at the Spandex Stage.
If that wasn’t all exhausting enough, indie institution Communion’s tent offering was giving the main stage a run for its money (only limited by the beer-infused mini marathon needed for punters to reach one from the other) with grungy rock pop from Margaret Glaspy, fun-loving American indie with Twin Peaks and multi-instrumentalist geek chic in Dan Croll. Sylvan Esso ripped it up with their addictive electropop beats and Amelia Meath’s wicked cool vocals on tracks such as Coffee, and Michael Kiwanuka’s stunning soul, brought those in need of it a soft Sunday landing.
Main stage was graced by the refreshing vibes of Pharrell Williams-endorsed Maggie Rogers with her folk-electronica, the hypnotic melancholy of Aussie singer-songwriter RY X’s Berlin, the English treasure Laura Marling’s sweet folky brilliance drawing from latest critically acclaimed album Semper Femina, and left of centre indie-electro outfit Wild Beasts were sizzling on Alpha Female from new album Boy King. Bonobo – aka Simon Green – put in a brilliant show with his laid back, funky electro, back lit with mesmeric visuals and shrouded in smoke.
The set dipped and dived between ethereal sounds, stunning vocals from Szjerdene Mulcare and the satisfying reverberation of the bassline as it periodically kicked in. Though arguably best enjoyed with the acoustics of tented or ceilinged venues than the open air, he kept the crowd in gentle raving spirits with new album Migration highlights, as well as the likes of 2013’s Cirrus. For those still hankering for a beat, he continued well on into the night at Village Underground for a DJ set.
But it was Foals that lifted the festival out of “chillaxed” Sunday vibes firmly into wild party-on-a-school-night territory. They delivered a blistering set of unadulterated British rock, exceptionally produced visuals projecting the band at work in stylised colour and glory and roaring vocals delivered with infectious energy from frontman Yannis Philippakis from first track to last sweaty plunge into the audience. Opening with Mountain at My Gates, we heard most recent album 2014’s What Went Down as well as previous releases including memorable indie classic from Holy Fire, My Number, 2010’s Spanish Sahara, 2008’s Red Sock Pugie, ending on the brilliantly angry guitars and reverberating lyrics of 2012’s Inhaler: “So can you not go away/ If just for one day”. And just when the crowd were starting to feel guilty that they should already be tucked up in bed, Foals re-climaxed with album title track What Went Downand 2008’s Two Steps, Twice to strobe lighting and what appeared to be the world’s biggest party popper spewing streamers across a mind-bent crowd. Raw and explosive, this was live gig perfection.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 17th July 2017.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Citadel Festival 2017 took place at Victoria Park on Sunday 16th 2017. For further information and future events visit the Foals website here and the Bonobo website here.
Watch the video for Foals’ Inhaler here:
Watch the video for Bonobo’s Cirrus here: