From the bustling crowd to the busy, slightly less crowded backstage, there’s not much difference in atmosphere. Behind the barrier, the crowd is alive and buzzed, dancing and singing, jumping around, milling around towards the back with food and drink. On my side of the barrier, close enough to the stage to see the performers properly, and also have space to stretch my arms if I wanted to, the people back here are dancing and singing along, drinking and eating and smoking just the same as the audience is. The only difference is that these people here are performers, or helping out the bands, or maybe just incredibly close to a band members themselves.
Skycity played first, opening the night while the crowd was still gathering. “It’s a good opportunity to play, as it gives us more exposure and promotion,” says the drummer, Jean Paul Borg, minutes after he’s gotten off the stage. “It’s always great to play with established local bands,” adds their frontman and vocalist, Gianni Selvaggi.
“Although we feel that the preparation wasn’t very good this year, and that the crowd wasn’t here for us, we still felt listened to. People actually listened to us even if we weren’t the main focus,” continued Gianni, with Jean Paul adding that they would be playing at the Notte Bianca in Valletta next, and releasing an EP later on this year.
“November,” Gianni interrupts, smiling as he sips from his beer. “Look out for it!”
Before continuing on their way, they said that they would like to thank KSU for the opportunity to play, and hope that they might be given another change next year as well.
Next up played Każinska, with their colourful shirts and festa like music, and after prancing around on stage, to the audience’s delight, Fabian Bonello (saxophone) and Mark Farrugia (trumpet) sat with me for a few minutes.
“Considering one of our guys was late and we had to alter the set list, I think we did well!” Mark said, with Fabian continuing that it was a good opportunity to play here, and that it was probably the biggest audience they’ve ever had. When asked about plans for the future, they merely said that they would keep playing gigs, and maybe release an album in the future. They would, however, be performing at Notte Bianca.
“We’d like to thank each other, for being there for each other through thick and thin. Also KSU for the great organization of everything!” Mark finished off, leaving to help the rest of the band pack up their instruments.
Mila, who’s stage name Undine la Verve is (she comments) ‘much nicer’ was preparing before she got on stage for her dance, warming up by doing a few routine dance steps. “I’m doing this in the name of justice! It’s a political message because I believe that the revolution starts with the mind. We should be promoting the revolution of the mind and not the revolution of violence,” she said before stalking proudly towards the stage in full costume.
Between one preparation and another, I also managed to snag a few words with Gianni, frontman and vocalist for RUG.
“We’re happy to be here. We’ve played here before, and in fact we started off at University, so it’s always nice to come back to our roots.” When asked about their next performance, Gianni said that BirguFest was their next stop. “That’s always a good laugh,” he continued, giving a small giggle before saying that there’s also a potential for a gig at New Year’s Eve.
“The crowd looks great, and we’re here to enjoy ourselves and help them enjoy themselves too! Our drummer even dressed up for the occasion,” he laughed, gesturing at the drummer, who was wearing a black t-shirt with a skeleton printed on it and tasselled-white trousers.
“We’re gonna try not to be too rude tonight,” Gianni grinned before he got on stage to close the evening, telling me that he’d like to especially thank KSU for the opportunity to play, as it’s always nice to come back to familiar places.
The atmosphere in the crowd suddenly reached an all-time high when Ira Losco stepped up on stage, bringing with her incredibly energy that infected everyone listening – the crowd enjoying themselves in front of the stage, and the small group of people backstage who were singing and dancing along enthusiastically. She alighted from the stage buzzing, grinning and thanking each one of her band members before coming up to me for a few words.
“Bomba! (Great!)” she remarked when asked about how she felt the gig went. “Considering the technical difficulties, we powered through it and it turned out to be a great gig!” When I asked her why she felt it went so well, she said it had to do with the great chemistry the band had with each other, as well as how well the crowd responded to them. “They were a great audience, and I’m looking forward to hopefully performing next year.” Ira continued to say that she’ll hopefully be performing somewhere at New Year’s Eve, but she’s not sure where yet, and urges fans to keep their eye out for any news.
“I’d like to thank the audience, especially, for being so great. And my advice to anybody who wishes to continue studying music, at University or in their spare time, is to just keep going!”
A big congratulations to KSU for organizing a fantastic evening, and a huge thank you to the performers and artists who were there to make the night even better than it already was!