Presumably as soon as the last partygoer of Saturday night’s instalment of Lovebox had been kicked out, festival organisers got straight to work to change the signs and facade of Victoria Park to prepare for its seemingly more eclectic and mature cousin, Citadel festival. Now in its third year, Citadel holds an interesting position among its London day festival peers with a consistently interesting array of acts, drawing in a mixed crowd from glittery, gurning yuppies to children and families alike.
Kicking the day off early were London-trio Wyldest, opening with dreamy slow-burner “Wanders” in the shade of the barn-like JägerHaus stage. At midday it was a tough set for the band, but by the early afternoon Victoria Park had both filled and seemingly woken up. Perhaps some had warmed up with fun 80s work-outs at the Spandex stage, but the longhaired Australian Parcels stepped up groove over at the Kasbah stage with the disco beats of ‘Hideout’ and recent Daft Punk collaboration ‘Overnight’. They faced some unlucky sound difficulties, though thankfully the bass came back in just in time for its lead in the bridge of ‘MyEnemy’. Sound issues were unfortunately a problem later in the day on the main stage too, often sounding muffled in the quieter moments of Laura Marling’s guest appearance, and with levels peaking and dropping as if in a losing battle in the raucous and fuzzy Boy King numbers of Wild Beasts’ set.
The crispest and loudest sound was to be found at the Communion stage, which suited both the grizzly guitar tones of California’s Margaret Glassy’s afternoon performance and the deep, bassy synths of Sylvan Esso’s set later in the afternoon, the latter of which could be found a Maggie Rogers letting her hair down after her all-smiles show over on the main stage.
The Kasbah stage had one of the most interesting collection of acts of the day though, hosting some of Mali’s finest newcomers, Oumou Sangaré and Bombino in succession. The call-and-response of Sangaré’s Wassalou style brought smiles and dancing all round despite a cold brief shower that poured over her performance, whilst Bombino brought a little more clout and guitar shredding with numbers such as ‘Timtar’ and ‘Jaguar’.
Set against an ominous grey sky of a backdrop was Bonobo, whose early evening performance was sleek and dramatic, opening on the calming piano of ‘Migration’. Simon Green lead his jazzy and electronic cohort through a career-spanning selection, though the flute solo of breezy ‘Kong’ was a particular highlight.
Nothing, however, could compare to the anticipation and ferocity that Foals brought their headline performance, a UK festival exclusive. Frontman Yannis Philippakis came to the stage first to tease with the opening chords of ‘Mountain At My Gates’ from 2015’s What Went Down. The riffs didn’t stop as the band dropped straight into the reckless ‘Snake Oil’, letting off steam cathartically with every chug and every snare hit. Indeed, the sound coming from the main stage was massive, doing justice to the epic soundscapes of ‘Late Night’, ’A Knife In the Ocean’ and the intricate rhythmic hits of ‘French Open’ and rare number ‘Black Gold’. The switch in dynamic from the epic to the intricate is of course what make Foals perfect headliners, aptly epitomised by an encore of ‘What Went Down’ and ‘Two Steps Twice’. Citadel may have been their only UK festival of the year, but boy did Foals make it one of the best.