If there’s one downside to Citadel Festival – aside from the fact getting out was about as easy as getting into Glastonbury this year – it’s the fact that it’s only on for a day. With a programme packed to the rim and celebrating the arts, dissecting cultural issues, and embracing alternative entertainment, it’s a far more suitable alternative to Glasto than other London day festivals. But with a line-up topped by Tame Impala and crammed with Chvrhces, Fat White Family, HONNE, The Horrors and many, many more, there isn’t the usual few hungover hours in the morning chill out time that you’d get at Worthy Farm to enjoy the rest of the festival without missing the music. And despite appearing as an electronic-focussed affair, the music is a pretty mixed bag.
Following an even shorter than their allotted half hour set from The Horrors (apparently they weren’t informed of the move from Victoria Park…), yet still performing something serene and polished – particularly when compared to the gothic punk of their debut – The Fat White Family stumble to the stage and bring anarchy with them. With nods to The Fall and The Libertines, their words are poetry to a nation that, despite the glittered faces and coloured flags, are living through a pretty shitty time, and while they seems to enjoy the excesses of a rock n roll lifestyle to its maximum, the crowd appear to enjoy that fact even more.
Chvrches are next to the main stage, and a stark contrast to The Fat Whites: a multitude of synth parts, now backed by a drummer, play out to perfection, topped with Lauren Mayberry‘s sweetly stern vocals. Despite now being on album #3, and a woman who has fought her cause across social media and the press, there’s still something not overly super-starry about her, and that’s no bad thing. When not spinning round the stage, she’s slipping over her lyrics and laughing about it with her band mates afterwards. Highlights come in the form of Clearest Blue (that Depeche Mode-on-speed bridge never tiring) and closer Never Say Die; the perfect blend of industrial, jagged synths and a pure-pop melody.
And so to Tame Impala, and despite only heading for a piss, a pint and to pick up lost friends with the use of 3G weaker than both aforementioned p’s, the crowd has grown 5-fold. The band kick off with 7-minute epic Let It Happen, however it doesn’t quite happen due to the third major downside of the event: It’s too bloody quiet. A festival sound system should be good enough to sing as loud as your lungs will let you without fear of ruining your neighbours’ experience with your off pitch, key and timing attempts. During this set, it was all too clear that most of us don’t know the words to Elephant beyond line 1. Nevertheless, the band are tight, Kevin Parker’s vocal as Lennon-like as ever, and with trippy scenes on the screens and confetti cannons blowing, it’s certainly a spectacle, but one that could have just done with being turned up a few notches.
So just 3 easily fixable tricks to ensure for a better experience next year:
- Put it on for the weekend (Lovebox sux)
- Turn it up
- Let us get home once it’s over.