To provide a perspicuous account of Starfields is a monumental feat. Few things are as tumultuous as 2200 students crowded together on a single square of grass, every one of them fighting for drinks, burgers and stage-side views. Regardless of sobriety or shrewdness, anyone can lose themselves in the utter mania that accompanies a music festival.
This review, however, proved easy to write. Starfields 2016 was not chaotic or uncontrolled but tightly organised and immensely enjoyable. The throng was obviously massive – at over 2000 tickets sold, the marquee was packed throughout the night – and yet there was always space on the lawn to relax, either on picnic benches or oversized pillows. Queueing was practically nonexistent, partially thanks to the lightning fast service of the admittedly under-appreciated Union bar staff and partially thanks to the layout of the venue: bars in one corner, food in another, and dance in yet another guaranteed a streamlined evening, as every guest found their own niche in the crowd.
The music itself, as attested by many attendees, was excellent. FS DJ Scott Gordon held his own against the bigger acts to follow, all of whom lived up to the hype generated by the FS committee’s numerous cover photo changes and promotional videos. His opening set easily matched the quality of the ensuing Bodalia, Cheat Codes, Philip George, and headliner Michael Calfan, whose Treasured Soul ended the night on a cracking high note. The positive reviews of the music lends credence to the idea that a ‘big name’ is not necessarily the end all, be all of an event: last year’s headliner Klingande was arguably the bigger act and yet did not receive the rave reception of Calfan or Cheat Codes.
When not dancing, guests entertained themselves across the lawn at food stalls and one memorable photobooth. Blackhorn, as always, was a highlight of the culinary lineup; the only queue in the venue could be spotted at the familiar black truck, as people craved chips and burgers from early on in the night. Nearby, a bright red FIXR-branded car also acted as an event hot spot. The app to thank for the simplicity of the ticket-purchasing process, FIXR offered a free photobooth built into the back of their company car. Guests clamoured inside to pose alongside oversized glasses and blowup champagne bottles and emerged with several strips of fond memories.
Ultimately I would attribute the success of Starfields to a single factor and that is the lack of a final entry time. Although a seemingly small detail compared to DJs, layout and food, it is final entry that caused the unforgettable pandemonium of last year’s arrival. Starfields 2016 took the unprecedented step of eschewing final entry, leaving the doors open from four to close. Guests ducked in and out to visit cash machines for the bar, never spending more than a minute crossing the Quad upon their return. The lawn was fully occupied from afternoon to evening, and yet entry and exit was the smoothest I’ve experienced at any event before.
A wonderful experience in its own right, Starfields has set the bar high for FS’s 25th anniversary. If the launch is anything to go by, the committee is intent on learning from their past mistakes and ensuring that FS 2017 will be the show’s strongest year yet.