Citadel is a newish one-day festival. Three years old this year and set in London, it is, on paper, a festival I would enjoy: it’s close enough to my house not to have to stay over anywhere, and it fields the sort of music that I like. However, it’s been my experience that festivals in or close to London are not as fun as those outside London. In order to live in London, people forget how to interact with each other in a civil manner, which is fine on the tube but not so fine when you’re supposed to be feeling chill listening to your favourite bands. To put in bluntly, people in London can be arseholes (and I am sure I am guilty of this at times, especially when people are STANDING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ESCALATORS. YES, IT DOES MATTER!!!), and so London-based festivals have to be pretty special to get my money.
I was tempted by Citadel this year, I really liked two of the bands — Sylvan Esso and Wild Beasts — and quite liked many of the others: Laura Marling, Nadine Shah, Foals. However, because I had seen Wild Beasts twice last year I didn’t think it was worth spending the money on seeing them again, but then I had the chance to meet an old friend there as part of her birthday celebrations (I was missing her party), so I was sold.
Being a London festival, it does mean that one has no excuse to look like you’ve just crawled out of a tent. If I owned anything sequiny I would have donned it (gonna trawl some charity shops with this in mind for next time). The weather was also being a bit of a pain: it was warm, but in that ‘going to be muggy and rain in a minute’ kind of way. I the end I wore a light dress with an awesome print, but with fish-netty leggings because it wasn’t the weather for a short skirt, and a long cardigan for layering.
I also struggled with what to wear on the feet, even though it was technically a local festival, I actually did more walking because I used public transport, so I wanted something really comfortable. The leggings made it hard to wear sandals (and also you have to be quite brave for sandals at a festival, they can be grim and I wanted my toes covered) so I went for glittery hi-tops. Glittery hi-tops are totally festival shoes.
This outfit worked really well on the day. I could take the cardigan off when it got really hot, I had an umbrella for when it rained (too hot for a waterproof), the dress was floaty and summery but the print hid the muck and beer spillages, and the leggings prevented my legs shocking any teenagers. There were a lot of people in festival gear — glitter-galore and flower crowns, but I can’t be bothered frankly. However, I can recommend an eye pencil for some grown-up sparkle at festivals or otherwise:
I’ve been wearing this Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow pencil over the summer and it’s great. Long-lasting and easy to wear, it’s got a nice starry sparkle that isn’t too over the top. I bought the champagne sparkle, which is for blue eyes, but there are other colours available. This colour does like nice with my grey–blue eyes, but it would suit most people.
So to review the festival itself, Citadel was a lot of fun, and they managed to cram a lot in. Victoria Park was a lot bigger than I had realised, but I think the organisers had tried to cram too much into the space, there wasn’t enough distance between some of the smaller stages to be out of earshot of other stages, and this was really detrimental with the spoken-word events, such as the comedy and the science talks as you just couldn’t hear them.
That said, the bands were really good. The main stage was huge and had lots of screens that were so high-definition you could read the waist size on the band members’ Levis. Wild Beasts were, of course, belting out some solid tunes, although I think they do better headlining their own smaller stage.
They were on at a bit of an awkward time and overlapped with my favourite set that night, Sylvan Esso. I don’t have any pictures of Sylvan Esso because I was dancing so much; they really seemed to be enjoying being on stage, and it whipped everyone up. People were really getting into their songs, which created such a special moment, and one that seems to be rarer as I watch live music as I get older. So in the absence of a picture I’m posting a youtube of one of my favourite songs. I don’t love the video, but this song got everyone dancing:
Margaret Glaspy also did a really good set. Short, snappy grungey New-York rock, I was surprised as I always assumed she was folky. I will definitely be checking her out in the future.
So in summary, Citadel was enjoyable, but it’s not one of my favourite festivals. Maybe because it’s a London thing but it feels kind of manic, like there were just too many people and pineapple workshops and not enough thought about the spacing of the music or the comfort capacity of the area. If you have to queue to get into a bar, you know something is wrong. Also, I hate a lot of corporate sponsorship at festivals. I realise that without it, the ticket prices would be a lot higher (it was close to £60 including postage and booking fees, which I think is reasonable for a day’s entertainment), but it really felt ridiculously in your face at Citadel. It just wasn’t needed to have Jagermeister branding all over the Jagermeister tent. All you could buy at the bar was Jagermeister (which smells so potently of regret) so it was bloody obvious. It didn’t feel like there was a square metre that didn’t have some corporate branding on it… not my thing. Also, the litter situation was atrocious. I know it’s a festival and people want to get drunk and not put things in the bin, but when I look back to other festivals such as Greenman and Bluedot, they are pristine: they have reusable cups and the litter-pickers work very hard.
Walking out to the periphery to take a photograph of the main stage when Foals were playing, the were plastic cups everywhere. It looked like a rubbish dump. I took a quick snap (above) and put my camera away, it wasn’t very inspiring.
I probably would go again, given the ease of getting there, but they would have to have some really good bands playing and the bonus of catching up with some old friends, which was by far the best part of the day.
In terms of attending with a disability, it was good. the ground is smooth and flat and there are accessible toilets if you need the extra space. It was hard going, but I limped home happy.