Summer was supposed to have ended. England were out the world cup, Trump had visited and the country was starting to experience the first rain for weeks.
But in a quiet part of London, thousands were descending on Gunnersbury Park for a day of 30 degree heat and a brilliant curated selection of music.
With so many acts to see, the only choice is to be on the move constantly, going between acts like Sea Girls, with their unfathomably catchy tracks like ‘Lost’ and ‘Too Much Fun’, the particularly doomy sounding Goat Girl or the simply magical Matt Maltese. Then there’s the DJ sets from the likes of Kelly Lee Owens, the science camp, and the range of activities like croquet, volley ball, yoga and space hopper races. It’s as if the highlights of a weekend festival had been sped up and crammed into one perfect summer’s day.
Back in London after a stint in Europe, grinning like naughty, possibly drunk, schoolboys, Shame took to the main stage. Lead singer Charlie Steen, with his high trousers and silly dancing had a level of cockiness and swagger comparable to The Last Shadow Puppets, yet with the menacing, punky leer of a band like Idles. In bizarre and unsettling yet hilarious tracks like ‘The Lick’, where the topless Steen crowdsurfed, and crowdsank, fans grasped the microphone to bark the lyrics out for him and on ‘Friction’, they sounded like a punkier Happy Mondays. After providing the crowd with some glorious, sun drenched gothery, The Horrors proved to be France’s lucky charm as they stopped by the big screen by to see them extend their victory to 3-1.
Fat White Family’s scuzzy, strange tracks like ‘Auto Neutron’ and ‘I Am Mark E Smith’ sounded surreally anthemic on the main stage, not because they sounded like typical festival anthems, but because the crowd sang every word as if it was ‘Football’s Coming Home’. How a band infamous for their wild, lewd and intimate gigs could adapt to a festival main stage with that same raucous energy yet also a newfound professionalism was incredible. The half hour queue for tap water next to the stage, who were avoiding the 25 minute queue for £2.50 spring water, were bombarded with songs asking “Baby, is it raining in your mouth?”, yet surprisingly loved every second. Mostly.
Later, the sounds of pop masterpiece ‘Get Out’ caused literal sprinting from all across the park towards Chvrches, who were exactly as perfect as you’d expect. Meanwhile, the ethereal, unearthly pop of Pumarosa was just as sublime inside the calmer walls of the quaint Koppaberg Outsider (strangely not punned as Outcider) stage. The band were flawless, opening with ‘Cecile’, followed by new song ‘Into The Woods’, before more from last year’s The Witch, including ‘Priestess’ which woke the entire audience from their heatstroke induced slumber and into dance.
By now, the mix of noises and styles, ‘Fuck Trevor’ t-shirts (see ‘The Less I Know The Better’) and secretly smuggled spliffs all seemed to be building for the main event; Tame impala’s only UK performance this year. Opener ‘Let It Happen’ saw perhaps the biggest confetti cannons ever drench the crowd in joy and colour, as Kevin Parker humbly announced “We’re called Tame Impala” before going into early demo ‘Sundown Syndrome’, which sounded just as fresh as their new material, or all the hits on Lonerism that gained them their mass appeal.
Citadel was truly a celebration of awesome music, dampened only by lengthy queues for water and fans struggling to get home. More water and trains next year please, then you’ll be perfect. x