With brilliant music, drinks and on-point lighting, by all judgments the On the Rocks Opening Party should have been a great night, and it might have been… if anyone had shown up.
Now I guess it wasn’t completely the organisers fault – how were they to know that everyone wanted to go to Ma Bells that particular Tuesday (it’s not like that’s a trend in St Andrews or anything…)? But one can’t help but wonder if they should have publicised the event more. Almost no one had heard that the show was happening, and as it was only the start of On the Rocks, people hadn’t built up excitement for their events yet.
At a glance many people just assumed that 601 was closed that night. Furthermore the rather steep cost of entry (£12 for a Union event!) at the door helped keep out any other stragglers who just turned up to see if anything was going on. I understand that the fact that the committee had organised non-St Andrews based bands to come had driven up the price of tickets, but maybe if they’d hyped the event up a bit more there would have been a larger turn out – think Starfields. Either way – even my electro-loving music friends couldn’t be bothered to make an appearance.
There is something to be said, however, for having a smaller crowd at a gig. The lack of publicity and ticket price did mean that only diehard fans of the bands, as well as fellow journalists, made up the group of about 30 people in the room. What was marketed as a potentially massive party ended up being far more intimate and had a generally better vibe than I was expecting. Furthermore, whoever was in charge of selecting bands did a good job of gathering up a variety of new up-and-comers from the Glasgow music scene. Sweaty Palms were decent to listen to and opened the show with enthusiasm, considering the low turn out.
While not my particular genre of music their ‘alternative-rock’ set was surprisingly easy listening and they did manage to warm people up a bit. Special mention goes to the electro group Errors, however, for their generally amazing performance. Even the sober people in the room couldn’t help but tap their feet to the music, and I even spotted the normally cranky 601 bartender rocking out. The group also managed to be cheerful and engage with the entire audience, despite their slight disappointment that the room was near empty. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when their faces fell as they saw the crowd – not the headlining show they’d been expecting.
This slight embarrassment on the promoters’ part was clearly shared, as they felt obligated to fill the room however possible. It was clear they became determined to at least half-fill the room for the DJ duo Ossa di Mare. This then led to them handing out wristbands for the event in the Union main bar, generally begging people to go in and give it a shot. At £10 early bird ticket I’d have been rather gutted to hear other people were getting in for free, and this influx of clearly trashed people ended up having the negative effect of pushing out the original hard core fans who had showed up solely to hear the music.
Overall, while on paper the event would have been right up a lot of people’s alley, it’s clear it was underpublicised and ill-timed. Hopefully the rest of the On The Rocks festival will be less catastrophically embarrassing for everyone involved.