Ben Bagley reviews the society's successful 30th anniversary concert.
I ‘rocked’ up to the union last Saturday evening in a foul mood. Arsenal’s abysmal display away to a struggling Everton side was compounded by England’s defeat to Scotland in their Six Nations opener. What better way to cheer myself up than a bit of live music in the citadel of music that is the St Andrews Student Union?
The event was organised by RockSoc – St Andrews’ “one and only rock and metal music society” – in celebration of their 30-year anniversary. It was clear from the outset that no expense had been spared on this occasion. A triple-header of bands, an impressive array of branded merch, an army of St Andrews’ finest stage technicians – and all for only four British pound sterling! I made a beeline for the 601, the beating heart of this event, picking up my traditional pint of Madri on the way (see footnote).
Student band Verbatim kicked proceedings off. Relative newcomers to the (albeit sparse) St Andrews indie scene, they have nonetheless already garnered a loyal following. Their eclectic mix of covers and originals was well-balanced: I particularly enjoyed their rendition of Nothing But Thieves’ festival anthem ‘Amsterdam’. A string breakage in the dying embers of Verbatim’s set wasn’t enough to perturb the inevitable encore, which rounded off the opening set of the night in style. As I adjourned to the bar for a second pint of union ale, Arsenal’s woes were quickly slipping out of my mind.
Downstem were the second support act of the night, opening their set with a rendition of Fugazi’s timeless classic ‘Waiting Room’, something of a hymn for pretentious indie types such as myself. They continued with polished resolve, riling the crowd up with a few punky numbers. I particularly enjoyed their Hendrix-esque original ‘Floor’s Shaking’. There really is nothing better than an extended dominant seventh chord with an augmented (sharpened) ninth, am I right? The set was rounded off in emphatic style with a cover of smirk-inducing sprechgesang number ‘I Fucked Yr Mom’.
The stage was well and truly set for the evening’s headliner, RockSoc’s alumni band Best of the Old Bastards (aka B.O.O.B.S.). *Snigger*. The band had been practising since November for this event, and it was evident from their opener: a tight rendition of Guns ‘N’ Roses classic ‘Paradise City’. Their set contained a satisfying assortment of rock classics old and new, and even a cover of the union’s inexorable club-night track, ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’. They had the crowd in raptures, and mosh pits soon spawned in the middle of the 601 – a sight I never thought I’d see. Guest singer ‘Wish’ was brought out for a cover of Cameo’s classic ‘Word Up’. I imagine that Wish was something of a cult icon back in the day.
I left the union in a buoyant mood. A bit of live music was the antidote to the weekend’s sporting disappointment. A huge congratulations to RockSoc on a smoothly run success! Hopefully, this event has persuaded the bigwigs in the Student Union of the untapped potential for live music in the 601…
1. A friend revealed to me this week that Madri is in fact brewed in North Yorkshire and only has very tenuous ties with Spain; a blot on the reputation of what was quickly becoming my favourite ‘cerveza’.
Photo: Archita Goyal