Nicole Parnis June 6, 2017
Earth Garden – Unity Through Music
Wow. What a hangover. No, not that kind of hangover, I kept it quite tame this weekend. Malta is waking up to a new dawn after what’s been one hell of a bumpy ride this electoral season, to say the least. We have been divided, it’s affected us all, no-one has been spared. The people have spoken, loud and clear. Moving forward.
When the snap election was called, it became apparent this would fall on the same weekend as Earth Garden. A festival of music, street food and artisan wares from all corners of the globe. The organisers seemed concerned, but they had no need to be. There was something for everyone, from dub to acid house to psytrance, via afrobeat and disco. Not to mention our incredible local bands for that authentic home-grown Maltese flavour. They smashed it.
As I’m writing this, the remains of the weekend’s revelling will be duly disposed of. The streets of St Julian’s and the grounds of Ta’ Qali will get back to normal. But it will take a long time for the Maltese to get back to normal. We’re Maltese, we don’t really do “normal” anyway. But it’s not always about us. We’re not the centre of the universe. Although we are the European Capital of Culture next year. So let’s roll with it!
Earth Garden came at exactly the right time, after all. It was everything you could ever want from a festival, and more. It represented unity. Malta came together despite our “differences” to celebrate music. And anyone who was there will back me up in saying that as well as the droves of Maltese music lovers, it was full of expats. They don’t really care for our partisan culture. They’re too busy having a good time.
It’s them who chose Malta, that’s why they’re here. They chose the sun. The nightlife. The lifestyle. The new friends. The cool jobs. The beaches. The restaurants, the bars, the funny Maltese things we do. The friendly people, the pretty streets, the historic buildings, the sea. The sea! We almost forgot about the sea when we were ripping each other to shreds.
We can learn a lot from expats. That’s the beauty of multiculturalism. Earth Garden was the most multicultural I’ve ever seen Malta, apart from Sliema Arts Festival. And it made me proud. Welcome. Hats off to the organisers who brought Malta together last weekend to their eclectic safe space which was free from hatred, free from flags (apart from a couple of Xtruppaw flags on Thursday :D), free from politics. Full of dancing, full of love, full of interesting conversation, and respect.
I am proud to be Maltese when I see people having fun in our country and when I see local talent. We know how to put on a great party. Our DJs are fucking impressive. Our bands are going places. They’re past the stage of trying to emulate rock bands from overseas. The local alternative scene is fantastic.
If anything, hand on heart, now is l’aqwa zmien ghal pajjizna for music. We’re not just following it anymore, we’re making it. And really, really well. We need as many music events as we can get our hands on, and we must demand it from the fresh government. Mugging off Sliema Arts Festival was a huge mistake. But it can be forgiven, if they make it up to us. We need easy access to large event permits. Subsidies, grants, help, the works. If we were allowed to fill the streets with litter as the victorious party celebrated and acted cray, then it’s only fair. I don’t think it can possibly get any more cray than Sunday’s street celebrations anyway, so we’re covered.
Incidentally, Earth Garden was the cleanest festival I have ever been to. This was mostly down to the reusable ‘rent a glass’ policy carried out by the bars, plus waste bins everywhere, with quirky hand-painted signs to sort and recycle, and the great work carried out by all the litter pickers, for those who apparently can’t read. Partying doesn’t automatically equal carnage. Newsflash.
We can’t survive on iGaming and construction alone. And we don’t. Whatever your thoughts on Lost And Found festival earlier this year, they had a blast. Oh, and it brought in €7 million to our economy. I repeat. A seven million euro injection.
I’ve never been to Ibiza and to be quite honest, I think I’ve missed the boat. If it was 1999 I’d be booking my ticket and counting down the days to my holiday. But it’s not.
Malta has limited natural resources, our main industry is tourism. Malta itself. Tourists want to see culture. And to have fun. We’re great at that- we really, really are. We’ve got our huge outdoor party complexes already. Bomba.
The next step is making sure that we get Manoel Island back. No ifs, no buts. It absolutely needs to be kept clear of construction. For leisure, and the health and sanity of the population. And for the economy, ironically. Europe has parks. They just do. Deckchairs, shady areas, an outdoor cinema, a picnic area, a place to read a book, to roll around on the grass, to meet up with friends after work.
Ta’ Qali is awesome, and it was set up gorgeously for Earth Garden, but Manoel Island is central. With all the influx of expats, we need more than one main alternative events area. Malta is not just for the Maltese anymore, for Maltasajf and The Beerfest. Our new friends want to get involved too. There’s only so many times they can spend their Friday nights at the same places before they get bored, and the same goes for all of us!
We must continue to demand the best of overseas talent. I’m sure any up and coming international act would jump at the chance to play on our sunny island. Invite them. And not just the EDM acts, please. Classical and Jazz would be welcomed too. And have we forgotten about pop outside of Isle Of MTV? Let’s go for the big guns.
What Malta needs now is unity. And I say this without the slightest shred of deluded utopianism. Music makes people come together. In droves. Like nothing else in this world. It unites us, it loosens us up. We love it, and we pay for it.
The small businesses at Earth Garden benefitted. The big businesses benefitted from it. The events organisers benefitted. The sound guys benefitted. The set designers benefitted. The musicians benefitted from it. The population benefitted from it… even the ones who weren’t there. Think about it. I can imagine the tax collected from Farsons alone could support more than a few kiddies at skolasajf. Cheers Cisk!
Being the Igaming capital of Europe is cool. Being the fun capital of Europe is even cooler. Support it. There’s capital in it, promise.
Thank you for showing us how it’s done, Earth Garden. U viva l-kultura!
Photos by Nicole Parnis, featured photo by Daryl Cauchi