Under Canvas

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I have two confessions to make: I’ve never been to a festival, and I don’t “get” music. I’m awful with artists and lyrics and genres, so this makes me possibly the best and worst person to send to review the mini-festival that was Under Canvas this weekend. The event was to support the Cystic Fibrosis Trust with “six hours of music and four outstanding acts on the bill”.

Starting at 8 p.m. in St Mary’s Quad, the event looked promising. Asked to be there early, I aimlessly wandered through the layout, was told to “use the Portaloos now rather than later” and watched powdered paint being thrown at the committee at the St.Art photo booth. I use the phrase ‘photo booth’, what I really mean is a corner of the quad with a white sheet up and photographers milling around.

On arrival, guests were handed a bag of popcorn and some slips of paper to be exchanged for one gin cocktail and one gin and tonic. The first 200 to arrive and check in were also given an additional token for a free Kopparberg. Now, gin is not my drink of choice and never will be, so I was not a fan of this, but friends described the cocktail as “ambrosia” (though I’m pretty sure that this was due to the fact that this particular batch was ridiculously strong being at least half gin, half mixer).

So, onto the music now. Nexus and Stokes, William were each given a 45 minute slot. I can’t comment on Nexus as I somehow managed to miss their set, but Stokes, William were amazing. They managed to warm up the crowd very well and by half past nine, the event was in full swing. They finished with a fabulous two person drum finale, which was very well received. After a slightly chaotic set change, during which the dance floor emptied, Moodroom Collective took the stage with their distinctive beats and light effects. They got the atmosphere going again and there was even the appearance of two bubble machines! Elphino and Fort Romeo wrapped up the night, which finished at 2 a.m.

Being festival themed, the dress code included tiger onesies, however most opted for the tried and tested shorts and wellies/boots with the occasional summer dress.

It was great to see that the organisers were really in touch with their target market; we were asked to tweet about the event as the night went on. Yes, having to whip my phone out every few minutes was a bit irritating, but it did lead to an increased buzz about the event, and it kept the sponsors in the loop. Their heavy Twitter presence, along with the Facebook page and tumblr, shows that the ex-Masquerade committee knew what they were doing to promote their event.

Overall, the event was well thought out, designed and run. The acts were slightly later than scheduled, but that was to be expected and I don’t think anyone really noticed. Whilst I agree that the Portaloos were in keeping with the theme, I remain unconvinced that there really was no alternative. There was festival themed food available to buy, and once the initial rush of people wanting to swap their tokens for drinks was over, the bar queues were decent and moved quickly with good prices (I’m looking at you Big Top).

St Andrews was promised something different, and that’s what we got on Saturday night. Was the concept brilliant? Yes. Did I like it? Yes. Did Under Canvas go over the top? Most definitely yes!

Photo credit: Under Canvas

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