Arguably few events have such a mountain of expectations and obstacles as Starfields 2.0 has had this year. Known for flying in world-class DJs and some of the best production value that a university event could possibly have, FS’s music festival offshoot always has much to live up to, even more so this year in its return to its regular venue in Lower College Lawn. Ordinarily the much-anticipated climax of Freshers Week, students flock to the event in droves – wide-eyed first years and seasoned final years alike – in order to let loose one last time before the dream of long nights and strobe lights is rapidly exchanged for essay all-nighters and the bright lights of the library. Yet with rescheduling their event to Week 2 of the Martinmas Semester out of respect for the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II, and university Facebook groups becoming full of students reselling their tickets, Starfields needed to prove that even with these challenges, they still are one of the must-attend events of the St Andrews social calendar. And rise to the occasion they did.
On the evening of Starfields 2.0, you could feel vibrations in the cobbles of the Scores. You could hear a buzz all the way down North Street, where a long queue snaked from the entrance. The line to enter Starfields is always a runway in microcosm, with every attendee pulling out all the glitter-laden stops to put together some truly spectacular festival looks. From brightly coloured Y2K-inspired halter tops to bucket hats, open cotton shirts to lace corset tops, the Starfields crowd is a constant reminder of the event’s fashion show roots. The outfits of the attendees blended perfectly with the eclectic atmosphere curated by Starfields. The outdoor space appeared to be a particular favourite for photo-ops, with the beanbags and neon kiddie pools filled with plastic balls bringing a sense of youthful nostalgia to the evening.
Our small town was shaken all evening with the bass-heavy beats of the international talent brought in by the FS team. DJ duo Belters Only, known for their upbeat and summery breakout single, ‘Make Me Feel Good’, warmed up the crowd filling the venue. Their set was followed by Endor, whose high-octane tracks, including major hit ‘Pump it Up’, further spurred on the energy of the crowd. The undoubted highlight of the evening, however, came in the form of a golden plague doctor’s mask.
Even if you don’t follow DJs and house music, you could instantly see and hear why Claptone is an internationally renowned act who has performed in some of the most iconic venues and festivals from Ibiza to Tomorrowland. Not only is the Berlin-based DJ and producer a staple in EDM, Claptone’s range extends to collabs with indie and even jazz artists such as Grammy award-winning singer Gregory Porter. Claptone’s set sent the whole marquee into a fever pitch, and it seemed like there wasn’t a single person who was standing still in the space. When compared to the Covid restrictions that necessitated the change to the smaller space of North Haugh last year, it was a completely different world. Confetti cannons, strobe lights, and projections reminded the attendees that this was the Starfields standard – regardless of cancellations and postponements.
Attendees with whom I spoke had many positive things to say about the event, especially in terms of the music, the audio-visual production, and the atmosphere. If any complaints were to be had, they tended to be towards aspects such as the organisation of the bar and the price of the tickets. Although there was a wide gulf between the scale of Starfields this and last year, one positive aspect of the event in 2021 was its several bars that served the many attendees. There was just one bar at this year’s event, and there certainly should have been something done to minimise what I affectionately refer to as the Curse of the Queue. It plagues all major events in St Andrews, but the single queue to enter Starfields and the long wait times for drinks were certainly aspects that affected the overall event experience.
As for ticket prices, which reached a significant high at £56, Starfields undoubtedly aims to provide value for money. With their visual effects, large venue, sustainability commitment, and above all the impressive acts, it’s obvious that a lot of effort is put towards the curation of the Starfields experience. It is also important to point out, however, that price points upward of 50 quid put a lot of pressure on student budgets, and alienate those who cannot pay that amount from the only music festival that St Andrews has to offer. It is an issue that, like the Curse of the Queue, affects the biggest events of the year and should be acknowledged.
Overall, Starfields 2.0 was put under a microscope this year and certainly expected to deliver. With their usual flair for the eye-catching, intense, and unforgettable, the FS team rose to the challenge and presented an event that for one night, and one night only, transported its attendees back in time to the carefree golden days of Freshers Week.