Featured Image Source: Photo by Lightbox for the On The Rocks Festival Launch Event
The On The Rocks Festival was officially launched Tuesday night — a rather grey, wet, and windy night. But, not being dissuaded by some measly rain and the complete and total destruction of my prized charity shop umbrella on the walk over, I arrived at the Adamson at a quarter to 9:00 PM and remained for approximately an hour.
First entering the event, one was met by a warm atmosphere, created by the smattering of conversing groups that filled the room and mixed with a solo performer strumming somewhere at the end of the hall, which made the space as a whole exceptionally inviting when compared to the hostility of weather outside. Here, however, arose my first point of critique: standing there a few feet from the entrance – shoes, pants, jacket, and face thoroughly wet – I bumbled around in a group of other bumbling people as we looked for somewhere to deposit our jackets. The closet was, in reality, close at hand and, as one would expect, just a few feet from the door; however, placement of closets in St Andrews’ bars is not the problem I am trying to highlight here. Rather, it is the bumbling mass that formed near the door as people tried to figure out the layout of the space.
Further, the event advertised face painting, an OTR Scrapbook Project, and a photo booth, all of which were delivered in approximately the first 10 feet from the door. This created a veritable blockade of people by the entrance and worked towards limiting one’s ability to move from one area of the event to the other. Additionally, the concentration of all of these in one area created a general static quality to the environment which, though potentially benefiting those who merely wished to listen to the various artists who performed throughout the night, overall created a somewhat sedate space.
However, this potentially gives off the wrong impression – for in many aspects the event exceeded my expectations. The performances – a line up that featured artists such as Psac, Annabel Grace, Music Is Love, and Ben Hawken – were tastefully done and the volume and sound quality was always beneficial to the aesthetic of the event, always present and audible but never over-powering. The photo booth was well utilized throughout the night and event-goers, but was by its nature a little vanilla. The face painting was lack luster, and seemed rather out of place and without aim in the context of the event and in its execution. Gaudy carnival style paint would have obviously clashed with the more refined environment to which the event gave rise, but if the face paint was intended to be in any manner ‘tasteful’ (can face paint really ever be tasteful?), then it failed on account of its half-hearted nature.
Taking a different stance, the OTR Scrapbook Project is certainly closer to what might be considered an original aspect of event, though it is still unclear whether or not there is an actual purpose behind it. The artwork exhibited had, from my perspective, some genuinely good pieces; however I feel that there was not enough effort to highlight their actual existence which left one feeling as though engaging with them would have been somewhat of a faux pas. It is important to remember that it is often easier to be critical than it is to praise, and so looking past a number of minor and more major faults in the event I feel it was overall rather enjoyable and, had I not had other engagements, I personally would have remained much longer.
The OTR Launch event succeeded in creating a mature yet fun environment that I believe accurately works to microcosm the atmosphere On The Rocks Festival seeks to create.