St A Spots and Artists to Entertain
St Andrews has much to offer in the realm of arts and culture. With its local galleries, bookstores and pubs, the town leaves plenty of opportunities for the fresher to explore his or her artistic identity. During my first two years here at St Andrews, I felt most drawn to the music scene and history of St Andrews and Fife. I discovered that sufficiently acquainting myself with this new setting meant learning about its deep relationship with contemporary Scottish music.
At first, I found it easiest to achieve this task through looking to local spots and performances. Pubs around town, like Aikman’s or Molly Malone’s, Whey Pat, One Under Bar, or the Central host countless talented artists looking to expand their audience at folk or general open mic nights throughout the week. If you’re an artist yourself, these venues host the St Andrews student as well. Seek out these performances.
Even more so, however, I spent a good chunk of my second year at St Andrews listening to local artists, but also BBC Radio Scotland’s podcast Classic Scottish Albums. The podcast’s episodes gave me a direct look into some artists I never knew of or knew were from Fife or broader Scottish regions. I learned artists’ names; the next step was to explore further.
KT Tunstall, the international star with hits off her debut album Eye to the Telescope, grew up in St Andrews and attended Madras College. Her father worked for the university in the Physics department. KT began her musical journey doing live performances at local spots like the Vic and based her hit song ‘Suddenly I See’, famously featured in contemporary film classic The Devil Wears Prada, off a poster she kept in her St Andrews bedroom. Tunstall explained, to the Scotsman Magazine, that the Byre Theatre hosts the first stage she ever performed on at eight years old, and she has cited the town’s landscape and other seaside Fife spots, like Crail, Pittenween, Anstruther, and Elie, as inspiration for her discography.
Kenneth Anderson, kno
wn on stage as King Creosote, created Fence Records during the mid-1990s and based his label just a couple of towns over in Crail and Anstruther, Scotland. Although he does not have a massive following on Spotify, King Creosote remains highly relevant and important to the Fife music scene, as the artist has created more than forty albums written and expanded right here in the St Andrews area. His most recent album ‘Astronaut Meets Appleman’ gives us unique and authentic tunes like ‘You Just Want’.
Although not necessarily local to Fife, other bands I have written of before, like We Were Promised Jetpacks, Frightened Rabbit, and Idlewild give listeners a quality taste of the current indie rock and post-punk Scottish music tendencies. On September 10th, We Were Promised Jetpacks performs its most recent 2021 album Enjoy The View at La Belle Angèle in Edinburgh. Assai Records in Dundee, a record store which also has a location in Edinburgh, runs smaller events for an eager Scottish crowd. Just over this past year, the shop welcomed Belle and Sebastian, the classic Glasweigan indie band whose iconic albums heavily influenced the British music scene, CHVRCHES, We Were Promised Jetpacks, the Fratellis, and dozens more. Assai Records sometimes hosts the artists in shop with vinyl releases or signings or sponsors their work at other Dundee venues. The shop takes pride in supporting Scottish artists and allows visitors easy and often more affordable opportunities to educate themselves on the region’s musical undertakings, and, for those with a turntable, a strong and current record collection. Concerts and gigs like these, only a quick train into Edinburgh or bus to Dundee, have been my favorite way to better acquaint myself with St Andrews and its accompanying music scene.
St Andrews welcomes students from all over. To greet this seaside community in return, get to know its sound, listen to some music, learn about the artists, and enjoy your new setting.
Illustration: Lauren McAndrew