It’s a bit of a cheek calling a town square concert, starting at 7pm on a Tuesday and wrapping up before midnight, a festival. But as lissom host ‘Becca’ points out, this is the Snapchat generation.
"I wanna see every single one of your phones out!"
Take it from me, in the midst of the 50,000+ strong crowd: they all are anyway.
Loveable posh kids Clean Bandit kick off with the astute observation that Malta in June is ‘really hot’, before a lively set culminating in crowd pleaser Rather Be. There’s barely time to grab a pint – local lager Cisk (pronounced ‘chisk’) is a most sessionable 4.2% ABV – before Jess Glynne takes the stage.
I mean no disrespect when I say MTV knows the attention span of its (largely millennial) audience. The whole show barrels along at a lively clip, with pacy onscreen promos for Maltese holidays (seafood, sunsets, sexy girls) interspersed with garish cartoon clichés; an ice cream cone, a ghetto blaster, the Cross of Malta (a joyously incongruous icon dating back to the crusades). Later in the evening a prancing hypeman earns his crust keeping us all facing onstage during the swift turnaround between acts.
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Anyway, Jess Glynne is fucking great. Her muscular soul chops, supported by strident horns and tight-as-a-nun’s-chuff rhythm section, introduce a welcome dimension of muso class to proceedings. A barnstorming cover of Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You emphatically seals the win. As the final chords echo off the fairylit facade of St. Publius Church just across the square, it’s fair to say she’s made a fan out of me.
Next up, stoner prince Wiz Khalifa. The Pittsburgh MC got himself in hot water with the local press yesterday, sharing an Instagram snap of himself sparking a blunt on a charter yacht in Malta’s balmy Blue Lagoon. Journalists and online commentators alike were fairly frothing at the nerve of the man, and to be fair it is a bit rich that a dozen people are arrested for a cheeky toke during his languid set while he swans off on a private jet. Highlights include fan favourite See You Again and an appearance by his sidekick crew Taylor Gang.
But enough about him: the real star is Steve Aoki. By a mile. With thunderous trap breaks, mind-bending visuals and (amazingly) a couple of Blink-182 numbers thrown in, his performance is interstellar in scope yet still possessed of lively wit and self-deprecation. EDM at its finest, basically. For his trademark finalé, Aoki and crew hurl locally baked cakes into the ecstatic faces of the front row faithful; later we discover the Japanese-American’s touring ‘cake rider’ runs to fully six pages long.
For many, as with the event in general, this cake stunt might seem a bit sickly and in your face. But, if you’re not much of a camper, a day or two chilling on a sun-kissed island is far more fun than freezing your cock off on a windswept hillside in Somerset.
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Words: Andy Hill