Citadel Festival 2017 is completely unique. Not only because headliners Foals perform an exclusive UK date - with a shaken-up setlist to boot - but also because their homecoming neatly rounds off a decade since the start of their exponential rise.
Their unorthodox beginnings, renown for wild house party sets, feel light-years away from mammoth headline shows at Reading & Leeds, Wembley Stadium and now Citadel. But whilst the emphasis is marked firmly upon the Oxford quartet, the arsenal of supporting acts adds great value to one of London’s finest summer Sunday events.
Sibling-duo Ardyn are one of the first bands to make a lasting impression on the Clash stage; their folk-rooted pop is well suited to festival’s serene early stages. Singer-songwriter Jake Isaac follows on the same stage, and ups the anti with crisp guitar riffs.
Nearby yoga sessions and science/environment speeches are simultaneously in full swing - proving Citadel caters as much for the boutique festival market as it does the less sober ravers.
Then after a short trip over to the main stage, RY X deliver a gorgeous set with help from his minimal arrangements and eerily subtle voice. The Aussi singer-songwriter brims with originality, as tracks ‘Berlin’ and ‘Howling’ star in a slot that seems to last half as long as it could have.
Next up art-rockers Wild Beasts complete a juxtaposing performance. Sizzling songs from latest album Big Cat are quite singular, whereas the older material contains a more harmonic quality. Soon after, Everything Everything drummer Mike Spearman takes to the decks in the tiny wood-enclosed Jagerhaus stage. Spinning records opposite a full-crowd-game of basketball (queuing cheers and celebratory dancing), the set is bustling with R&B bangers and is good fun, albeit perhaps too safe from a band that usually have bags of audacity.
A return to the main stage is rewarded with two jaw-dropping sets. Sub-headliners Bonobo, with an on-stage setup that could’ve been mistaken for Caribou’s, begin an eclectic electronic journey throughout their lustrous back-catalogue. HD visuals, similar to those featured on recent full-length Migration, ebb and flow in tandem with their melting pot of synthwork.
Finally the headliners are met by an audience full of love for the masters of sprawling indie-rock. Bookended by big-hitter singles, the set revitalises blasts from the past like the stomping ‘Heavy Water’ and previously neglected gem ‘Black Gold’.
The best bands have multiple sides and facets, and Foals are seamless shape-shifters. From the brooding and measured bangers (‘A Knife In the Ocean’, ‘Spanish Sahara’), to the straight-up eruptions of fire (‘Snake Oil’, ‘What Went Down’), the show provokes both beauty and anarchy. ‘Thank you to everyone who partied with us last night at Citadel. That gig is going in my all time Top 5’, announced drummer Jack Bevan on his Twitter. You wouldn’t bet against the audience agreeing.