MaltaSajf Is A Reminder Of How Social Media Has Made Us Uptight
It’s also a glorious memory bank of familiar faces of the local music scene
Before Earth Garden, there was MaltaSajf. Organized by YMCA and held sporadically in various venues from the mid-80s until the early 90s, the festival brought together the crème de la crème of the Maltese rock, punk and metal scene for a weekend of music, camping and, of course, copious consumption of alcohol and other substances.
And today, some of the MaltaSajf old-timers will reunite to pay tribute to yet another one of its regulars: Emanuel Micallef, more commonly known as DJ Lito, who died in a tragic car accident earlier this year, and who made regular appearances at MaltaSajf with his band Lords of Misrule.
The likes of Triccas, Abstrass, Vandals and Purple Haze will be playing alongside their younger counterparts at Aria Complex, San Gwann to pay their respects for one of the most vocal proponents of rock music on the island.
MaltaSajf sprang back to our attention after veteran broadcaster and DJ Alfie Fabri posted his legendary coverage of the festival on YouTube. This quickly resulted in a comedy supercut that became a viral hit, confirming that MaltaSajf was full of ‘champion groups’ with the overall verdict of the event ranging from ‘tal-ostja’ to ‘buzz’.
There’s obvious fun to be had in chuckling along to the clearly plastered and not entirely articulate patrons of the festival, who just about manage to contribute one-word comments to Fabri’s repetitive and earnest questions.
But the videos are also something of an important time-capsule, showcasing the island’s rock, punk and metal scene at an earlier stage of its development… and also suggesting that perhaps, we were more liberal in our attitudes to drinking and drug-taking in particular than we are now.
In a half-hour video on the 1992 edition of MaltaSajf – which took place in Pembroke – we can spot the likes of former AD chairman (and drummer for Dripht and Norm Rejection) Michael Briguglio, as well as members of Xtruppaw Noel Cuschieri-Huy and Rex Grech Santucci. The most impressive hold-out from the bunch remains Ray ‘il-Bahri’ Schembri of Vandals, whose style and attitude remains admirably unchanged to this day (perhaps punk is not dead after all).
But what cements the virality of Fabri’s videos is the il-ostja man, ara din! appeal of watching people who clearly shouldn’t be broadcasting their intoxicated stupor to the wider world… but who don’t care all that much either way. You can see this pretty much all throughout the videos, but a recorded live performance of Triccas’s cult hit Lukanda Kalifornja seals it. A parodic take on The Eagles’ classic rock hit, Triccas’s Maltese-language version of the song is all about getting high en route from Msida…
But perhaps this is less about national attitudes towards intoxication being ‘more relaxed’ back then, and more about the way social media has changed the way we express ourselves about these things.
With the advent of social networks as a ‘natural’ part of everyday life, we are constantly vigilant about being photographed or recorded. And this isn’t just about ‘incriminating’ stuff – it also caters to our vanity. Most of us wouldn’t be caught dead on camera in the same condition as the drunken and dusty revelers at MaltaSajf.
Social media has made us uptight, and if nothing else, we should be thankful to Alfie Fabri’s videos for reminding us of the way things once were.
Check out the rest of Fabri's Maltasajf 1986 coverage, and keep an eye out for Lito himself...