Under Canvas 2015: Reviewed

If you were wondering about the strange noises coming from Lower College Lawn last night, that was the sound of 650 people having an awesome time. Once again, Under Canvas showed St Andrews that they’ve got the recipe for a good night all figured out. I was initially a little nervous about the change of venue from the usual spot at St Mary’s, but I quickly realized that we had nothing to worry about.

The first thing you noticed walking into the venue is that it’s definitely smaller than the typical St Andrews event, and that’s one of the best parts. It made for a really laid-back atmosphere: music festival meets garden party, with a little bit of rave thrown in there towards the end of the night. Just outside the main tent, STAR had their own lounge where you could go to chill out and take a quick break from the dance floor. And if you wanted to be wowed by Amy Hill, Josh Fuchs, Chris Andrews, and Jason Varner, you could mosey over to the Music Is Love tent, which was decked out in tie-dye tapestries and fur throws. Despite the cold, there was always a big crowd there, dancing and cheering on their friends. If you got hungry, the Blackhorn van was standing by, and if you felt like you needed some face paint there were body art stations too.

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Even with three tents, the event still felt really intimate and close-knit. And it was small enough that if you lost your crowd of friends, it took all of three minutes to find them again. Which is great if you’re 5’3 and have a shockingly low tolerance for heels.

The bars were slightly disorganised, with one bar accepting drinks tokens and cards and the other accepting cash, which resulted in some pretty long queues. Although I suppose that’s just a symptom of a going to a popular event. Plus, if you arrived before 9:30 you could claim two free drink mixers, and if you were one of the first 150 keen beans you could also pick up a free Under Canvas Beer courtesy of the St Andrews Brewing Company.

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However, the focus of the night was definitely the six hours of live music. Under Canvas 2015 had one of the best musical lineups I’ve heard at St Andrews, rivalled only by Under Canvas 2014. I loved the progression from chilled-out, folksy songs early in the night to techno and house towards the end; it really helped take the energy up over the course of the evening. Wovoka Gentle kicked things off with their modern psychedelic folk. The trio is actually a collaboration of Lights on the Mountain and Stokes, William, and if those names are ringing any bells it’s because they’re seasoned festival veterans. Lights on the Mountain’s cover of “The Weight” were definitely one of the highlights of Under Canvas last year.

On next was New Carnival, a trio whose punchy beats mixed with smooth rhythms made it impossible to sit still. This one is going to be stuck in my head for the next few days and I’m totally fine with that. They were a really tough act to follow, but if anyone could do it, it was Soulpatch. Their familiar fusion of techno and soul is always a crowd-pleaser. Next up was Horse Meat Disco. Full disclosure, I actually didn’t make many notes during their set because I was way too busy dancing. In fact the only thing I jotted down on my phone which I think pretty accurately sums up their performance was “CAN’T RESIST THE FUNK.” Their band is “dedicated to the industry of human happiness,” and those remixed throwbacks made the crowd very happy indeed. The final act was Mike Mago, who definitely lived up to his reputation as one of the biggest DJs to come out of the Netherlands; his energetic techno and dance music ended the night on a high note.

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Underscoring all the amazing music was the whole purpose and driving force behind Under Canvas: the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, to whom all the profits made last night will be donated. If you remember our preview, you’ll know that Under Canvas’s relationship to the charity is one of the things that make the night so special. It’s a cause near and dear to heart of the committee, and it was great to see all their hard work and effort pay off. Stay tuned to hear how much was raised!

Under Canvas definitely talked the talk with a stellar press campaign and a big social media presence, and after last night I can safely say that they also walked the walk. This could just be the fourth year nostalgia talking, but when I look back on my last year in St Andrews, Under Canvas is going to stick out in my memory. Not just because of the great atmosphere or incredible music, but because it was one of those nights that confirmed for me that I’ve spent the last four years in exactly the right place. It was filled with moments that reminded me how crazy my friends are, how remarkable this community is, and how extraordinarily lucky I am to be a part of it.

Thank you and hats off to the Under Canvas committee for another fantastic night in support of the CF Trust!

Images courtesy of Madeline Belt Photography.

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