Review: On The Rocks Programme Launch

Review written by Claire Fogarty, pictures from Lightbox photographer Tommy Rowe. 

With the student-led arts festival, On The Rocks approaching after spring break, its news, info, and events have been on St Andrews’ radar of late. On Tuesday 7th March, its Adamson launch party kicked the festival off to a rather fancy start.

The dress code was cocktail attire - in keeping with the venue’s tone. Notorious for its nice-but-pricey drinks and popular for its elegant atmosphere, The Adamson oozes class. One of the launch’s selling-points was, of course, the appeal of wearing anything other than trainers, and, indeed, many attendees jumped at the chance.

Despite a few technical difficulties which caused some momentary interruptions, the performances themselves were strong. If this is a preview of the talent On The Rocks has to offer, excitement is certainly warranted. The music was a warm and interesting component to the room’s overall atmosphere. Though not quite centre-stage, performers were showcased without dominating the event entirely, so that some could socialise whilst others stayed closer and watched.

Personally, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the social component of the evening. However, I do simply think this is the nature of these kind of events, which are largely impacted by the number of people you know – and I knew few. The Adamson’s fairly narrow space tends to squeeze one large line of those itching to pay for a cocktail near the bar, whilst most other people seem to occupy seats in groups they arrived with.

The cocktails on offer were – as usual – exquisite, my favourite being the rather boozy frozen strawberry daiquiri. At a reduced price of five pounds, guests had the rare pleasure of enjoying drinks that were both substantially alcoholic and tasty, too. The event’s signature cocktail was mildly uncreative for something representing an arts festival, but enjoyable, well-balanced, and reasonably priced. 

I wondered if the tone of the party was slightly incongruous with what I’d expected the event to be selling. I had associated On The Rocks with the clichéd indie culture that tends to overshadow being ‘arty’, and had expected its launch to reflect this. I realised, however, that the team have done extremely well to marry both artiness with a classy design and fine finish. It can often be difficult to combine these features, but On The Rocks has achieved this.

The student artists who performed original songs from a range of genres complemented the ‘cocktail couture’ elements of the event, providing a lower-key, more natural edge without demoting its status. The party mirrored the clean, sleek design of On The Rocks’ beautiful, professional website and equally perfected programme, copies of which were distributed on the tables and bar. On The Rocks seems to have achieved a harmony between high-design minimalism and the authenticity of lesser known art to showcase emerging student artists in a way that will have them taken seriously.

Flicking through the programme was possibly one of my favourite parts of the evening. I am incredibly excited about the events On The Rocks has in store. From a whole host of mediums to a great balance of themes covering both fun and serious topics, the festival will be exploring a multitude of purposes, reasons, and definitions of art.

ST.ART Magazine