What makes a festival? Look it up in an Oxford dictionary and you will find, ‘a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality, or locality of musicians, or holiday.’ Did Starfields do this definition justice? Well, they made a solid effort to replicate the characteristics of a music festival; day drinking, outdoor live music, food vans and the heady mix of flower crowns and glitter that festival-goers adorn.
By the time I arrived, Starfields was in full swing. We had the vans selling the usual festival favourites and long bars with the even longer queues (although great improvement on last year!). Beanbags and barrels were littered around lower college lawn to cushion the fall of failing dancing feet. Fundamentally, hoards of glittered-up people were waiting for a good boogie at the hands (or rather, fingertips) of this year’s selection of musical choices. Headlining Michael Calfan, and the supporting acts of Philip George, Cheat Codes, Bodalia and Scott ‘SAGA’ Gordon.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time. I danced a lot, had fun with my friends and enjoyed the acts. There was something refreshing about not having to crane your neck over jostling crowds to watch the live acts. Rather than the bands that I’m used to seeing at festivals, DJs are more about keeping the crowd dancing.
Yet, there are the usual critiques of St Andrews events. Many of which are not the fault of the FS organizers; the early opening time of 4pm and even earlier finishing time of 10pm, with the plug literally being pulled out at 10.10pm (Fife Council I’m looking at you). Though, for the optimists among us, the early closing time meant that the night was still young when everyone was pouring out of Lower College Lawn. There was uncomfortable hostility of those in the crowds, pushing and shoving because there were so many people in one space. An unfortunate side effect of hosting such a popular event.
However, a word on the price of the ticket. Starfields issued one hefty price tag of 41 pounds (incl. fixr fee) for one night with no free added extras. Though, in all fairness, it would work out similar if you saw all those DJs separately, but on behalf of my friends and fellow students who felt a bit stung, I mention it here. I cannot help but look back with nostalgia to my first year, when the price did not exceed 30 pounds.
One comment I overheard, was a fresher saying that she had a good time, but that it wasn’t exactly a festival. From the other end of the spectrum, a friend in her final year gave her verdict as the ‘same shit, different day’. Starfields has always polarized opinions. When you splash out on an event, you expect a lot back. But, giving FS their dues, what the students of St Andrews really needed was a good night to dance to – to dance out that hostility and energy or excitement that we find at the close of Freshers’ week. Starfields supplied that in leaps and bounds. The music was loud and fun, and in a prime time at the end of Freshers.
Starfields did well this year. They provided a good, if predictable, night of bopping to set us up for the semester.
So was it a Festival? Well, it might not be Glastonbury or Reading, but Starfield’s offered us a snippet of small town excitement, for one night only.