Last Saturday, 2nd October, I had the pleasure of attending a concert titled “Wirdien” (cockroaches), a concert featuring three bands who happen to have the Maltese language, and folk sounds, at heart: Brikkuni, Stalko, and Plato’s Dream Machine.
It all ran smoothly at the picturesque Masgar, in Mtarfa, a venue chosen not only for its environment (literally, a forest), but also because it lies away from populated neighbourhoods. Despite the tougher logistics, the organisation of this event aimed to minimise inconvenience to third parties.
But, as usually happens when you’re having fun, the police turned up to pull the plug. It was barely past midnight and the interruption halfway through Brikkuni’s set caused expectable frustration among the audience and musicians.
The usual probem, of course, is permits. It seems easier to block Aldo Moro road and congest traffic in Marsa from the afternoon onwards to host an exhibition of classic cars than play three hours of music away from inhabited zones.
The idea of stopping concerts halfway through (a musical coitus interruptus if you want) is a gag out of a totalitarian tragicomedy. I have followed and reviewed Maltese bands for 12 years and I’ve never witnessed such oppressive behaviour as I have in the last two years. So while most of the bands in Malta already face a disarming shortage of venues, it’s all well and good that the government has the interests of local artists and heritage and heart.
In reality nobody sticks out as much as a little finger to help out the independent bands. Thank God we have the Isle of MTV festival, a yearly bonanza where the crumbs that fall off the table of international music are shipped over here for a loud, steamy one-nighter the police would never dare switch off. It’s branded MTV after all – so it’s alright to bring over someone a talentless derelict monster of rock named Kid Rock and pass him off as a great musician.
What’s all this (discriminatory) attack on entertainment? I wonder whether the people at the Council of Culture and Arts know what’s going on, or whether these independent bands even exist.
Maybe our local authorities are trying their utmost to get us tucked in bed by midnight, effectively handing over the country to bandits and vampires after the fateful hour.
I’m sure many of those who lived through the eighties will jump at my notion, recounting tales of trouble with the boys in blue with a nostalgic glimmer in their eye. I was too young to remember and, frankly, the partisan media has done so much in these years that I hardly want another lesson in the evils of socialist Malta; yet, this sudden attack by police and the authorities on entertainment evokes stories of dark ages and police states.
I hope the authorities stop this castration of the Maltese live music scene. Otherwise there will be nothing left except for two or three artists, and we already know all their songs by heart.