If you’re into Maltese alternative music, it’s impossible to not have heard of Brikkuni before. Known to not hold back on their sarcastic and unabashed criticism of local politicians and mentalities in dozens of unforgettable tunes, Brikkuni had undergone a significance shift in style with their third album last year.
Last weekend, the band took to Valletta’s Campus Theatre to perform three sold-out concerts and kick 2018 off in style. As the musicians rehearsed for the big weekend, multiple photos teasing the weekend were shared on the event page. As always, the hype was real.
Opening the early evening shows was Noah Fabri, a teenage DIY musician who was given the opportunity of a lifetime opening for such a big band. Brikkuni frontman Mario Vella is as great of a seal of approval as you can hope for in such a small scene like the local alternative one, and Fabri definitely got it.
By the end of the two shows, Mario Vella and his Fabri’s mother Anna weren’t the only people singing the young musician’s praise. But soon enough, it was time for the main act to take the stage.
Expectations were obviously high, but Brikkuni didn’t disappoint. After all, they never really do.
Kicking off the night was Ċpar, one of the crowd’s favourite songs from the band’s new album Rub Al Khali. Guiding the audience through some of their most recent songs, which themselves mark a shift in style from sarcastic and folksy to contemplative and orchestral. The seven-man band, flanked by a choir of four and a couple of guest singers, tore through the long repertoire of songs. Even Mario himself, who couldn’t help but cough every couple of minutes, put up a vocal performance which outdid even his best endeavours.
Eventually, the band got to older numbers like L-Uffiċju, and while over five years had passed since Brikkuni’s second album Trabokk (and even more since their first offering Kuntrabanda), certain songs were hauntingly relevant for a 2018 concert.
Nowhere did this ring clearer than when the band performed their politically-charged Nixtieq, which Mario prefaced with a strong tribute about slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. “What I found to be the most disgusting was the look of satisfaction on the faces of half the population,” Mario told a completely silent audience. “I don’t know whether it’s a Mediterranean tendency, but it seems like we’re not able to stand uncomfortable personalities.”
Lighting duties were once again entrusted to Late Interactive, who as always st up an intense, engaging backdrop to the performance.
Photo by Isaac Sant
Photo by Kevin Grech
Photo by Drey Miceli
As every song came to a close, resounding applause rang throughout the theatre as the audience seemed constantly tempted to give the band a standing ovation. Instead, they waited anxiously until the very last song was announced, to a couple of half-joking groans.
“We actually have an encore tonight,” Mario announced to the audience. “So we’re going to go off stage, and if you liked our songs, you can clap and ask for another one, and we’ll act surprised and come back on stage.” And come back they did, with a heartwarming and nearly cathartic rendition of their Ix-Xewk u x-Xwiek.
Minutes after the concerts, attendees took to Facebook to congratulate the band, thanking Brikkuni for making their weekend that much more special.
Brikkuni’s next performance is slated for a couple of months’ time, where they’ll be soundtracking the start of summer. Until then, here’s hoping Malta’s music calendar for 2018 is as impressive as last weekend’s performances.