Down to Funk: Castle Sounds – Reviewed

Last Friday saw Down to Funk’s first large event of the year, Castle Sounds, take over the grounds of Earlshall Castle. Trip Brown reviews the night.

Earlshall Castle, a beautiful estate just a few miles outside of town, has become very acquainted over the past year with the students of St Andrews. Starting in early September with the Pimm’s Garden Party hosted by the Lumsden Club, Earlshall saw another, smaller, wave of students raid its grounds for Down To Funk’s Castle Sounds.

Perhaps a misnomer, Castle Sounds took place in a white marquee on the grounds of Earlshall Castle rather than in the castle itself. Students unpacked from the buses just as the clouds parted, illuminating the beautiful landscape where the night was to unfold. The early start was certainly a welcomed end to a long week but also meant that everyone was signed up for four hours of funk.

Earlshall Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The size of the venue may have been slightly ambitious for Castle Sounds, feeling as though the crowd of dancers was underwhelming while other attendees left to wander through the grounds, which gave the event a slightly fragmented feel. Nonetheless, there are certainly worse places to wander than the grounds of a seventeenth-century castle. Additionally, there were a few covered side rooms with comfortable chairs and heat lamps that seemed for many to be a necessary haven from the music.

I have been consistently surprised at the amount of talented DJs and musicians in my time at St Andrews, as well as the amount of outlets in which they are given to share their work. Down To Funk specifically has been a particular favourite of mine for its range in genre and DJs. Hosting a variety of genres from disco to hip hop to house music, DTF always puts forth a strong line up of student and guest DJs. At the same time, the marquee itself felt too spacious for the small mass of listeners gathered in front of the booth. It is hard to want to join in the dancing when confronted with a small mass of hopping students from all the way across the room, reminiscent of a middle school dance. In the mass’s defence, no one wants to be confronted with the reality of what they look like dancing to anything after a few drinks.

Source: Pexels

A problem I have found with many of the events during my time here is the price for attendance. Forty pounds is a plausible price to see your favourite artist in concert, but for a student music collective it seems slightly extortionate. Of course, all in attendance were paying on their own fruition and DTF is not dissimilar to any of the other event-throwing societies at this University. As someone who kept an analytical approach to the night in mind, however, I couldn’t help but notice the expenses that the night must have incurred and charged for. If the goal of Castle Sounds was to have a castle off in the distance while listening to music, what stopped the night from taking place right here in St Andrews? Sparing no expense certainly is not a virtue when hosting an event for undergraduates.

Nevertheless, I believe the event was very well run. Wristband pick up was easy and hosted by smiling, excited DTF members, communication about the weather and event details was clear and optimal, and most importantly everyone working there seemed proud of what they had put on. The event was streamlined, especially in the lines for the bar and the bathrooms. Drink tokens were an inventive touch, minimising the queue at the bar. From start to finish, the night ran smoothly. A downside of having an event outside of town is that, unless willing to spend money on a cab, you are virtually stuck at the event in its entirety. I saw very few people lining up for the cabs, however, which should be a testament to the event

All in all, Castle Sounds had great music and a beautiful venue. The price tag may deter me from going again, but I do not regret my attendance. I hope to see more events in the future focused on the music itself, and not an undisclosed location that more times than not has proved to be Earlshall Castle. Nevertheless, like so many of the over-the-top nights at this university, the planning and execution must be acknowledged: a group of students managed to host an evening for a couple hundred attendants, coordinating a stunning venue, transportation, affordable drinks, and fantastic music.

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