7 things we learned at Bring Me The Horizon’s Malta weekender

Emo bingo, throwback sets and the Backstreet Boys… it can only be one thing: Bring Me The Horizon in Malta!

7 things we learned at Bring Me The Horizon’s Malta weekender
Zoya Raza-Sheikh
Rowenne Lantion and Ross Silcocks

Since their formation in the DIY, scrappy UK metal scene of the early 2000s, Bring Me The Horizon have determinedly done things their way. What started as passion for dogged deathcore destruction has transformed over time into ambitious pop-metal progressivism, leaving countless artists in their wake, struggling to keep up with a group capable of wielding thrashing guitars and digicore electro-emo in the same manoeuvre.

Never ones to do things the conventional way, the Steel City heroes decided to kick off their biggest summer ever (including a headline slot at Reading & Leeds this August) with their own festival in Malta, presented by Pollen. We've seen them at the Royal Albert Hall, headlining All Points East, and we've even seen them open the BRITs with Ed Sheeran – but how would Sheffield's finest manage it in the Mediterranean? Here's what we learned from the whole experience…

1The goths are taking over

In just a matter of days, the European goth and emo community well and truly made Malta their home. From signature chunky high boots to jet-black hair, alt. fans came out in droves to catch some of the most exciting bands in the world. At every turn you were met with Horizon fans sporting their limited-edition merch, while ear-shattering music blasted from the stage, courtesy of a BMTH curated line-up that didn't disappoint. Standout sets from Beartooth, Static Dress, While She Sleeps, Bullet For My Valentine, Spiritbox, Nova Twins and more proved how just healthy rock is right now. As Oli Sykes put it himself: “I’ve never seen this many goths in the wild before!” Who said the alt. scene was dead?

2Jordan Fish and Lee Malia really suit gold blazers

When we think of memorable festival experiences, bingo isn’t always on the cards, but it sure was for the Malta weekender crowd. Offering some pre-headliner relief, crowds gathered for a special rendition of your gran's favourite game with a twist. And, as the high-stakes game unfolded (fans could win stuffed animals, merch and more), donning fancy gold blazers Horizon’s very own Jordan Fish and Lee Malia joined in to call out the winning numbers. If you ask us, both members might’ve found a lucrative side hustle if this whole band thing doesn’t work out…

3There’s nothing quite like a nostalgia-dumping set with friends

With a loaded discography, BMTH had no choice but to split their back-catalogue in two – so they did it in style. On Friday, the band shredded through an outstanding contemporary set packed with tracks from the newer cohort of albums and EPs (Post Human: Survival Horror, That’s The Spirit, Sempiternal, amo) that understandably sent the thousands gathered into raptures. But set two was where things got really interesting…

Ahead of the Saturday night show, Oli teased that the band would be playing songs for the first time in years. And he wasn't lying. Digging deep into the archives, BMTH revived everything from Liquor & Love Lost (which hadn’t been performed since 2008) to Blessed With A Curse (which was retired in 2016). In short: it was the ultimate in old-school Bring Me.

And just when you thought one of Britain's greatest bands unleashing a viciously delicious arsenal of gritty riffs, rampaging drums and bloodthirsty vocals couldn't get any better, out came some of their famous friends to step it up a notch. Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante powered through Suicide Season’s Chelsea Smile, Caleb Shomo killed it during Antivist, and Malevolence’s Alex Taylor brought the fury for Pray For Plagues. Elsewhere, Olli Appleyard kitted out Alligator Blood and While She Sleeps’ Loz Taylor championed Empire (Let Them Sing). Backed up with some of the biggest tracks metalcore has ever seen, Bring Me The Horizon brought a dream setlist to life in style.

4Nova Twins and Courtney LaPlante didn’t come to fuck around

As much as we could write thousands of words about the BMTH sets (and there is more to come), we can't not mention two of the standout performances of the weekend. Nova Twins were an absolute tour de force, setting the stage alight with bombastic hits that are primed and ready to take summer by storm.

Then, later in the day, Spiritbox unloaded the big guns. Despite having only a handful of shows under their belts compared to some bands playing over the weekend, they glistened with a confidence that says they've been here a million times before. Courtney LaPlante's growls were a feat of their own, while the deafening set of Halcyon, Yellowjacket, Holy Roller and more took things to the next level. They make their UK debut at Download Festival in June – make sure you're there.

5Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo really knows how to rock a DJ set

Who doesn’t love some good old Whitney Houston? Well, Caleb Shomo is certainly a fan. You might be used to seeing the Beartooth frontman screaming his guts out onstage, but his late-night DJing antics brought out all sorts of surprises. Caleb kept Malta dancing into the early hours with the classic Somebody To Love and back-to-back bangers Everybody and I Want It That Way – and you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen a mass gathering of emos head-banging to the Backstreet Boys.

6Fans cannot wait for Bring Me The Horizon’s new music (and for good reason!)

If you thought BMTH were simply just going to bash out two headliner sets then you’re very, very wrong. During their first night, Oli Sykes and co. casually chucked out a newbie – yes, new music is on its way! Kicking off the weekender, the band took to the decks for a high-energy DJ set and unveiled an upcoming track titled Strangers. The lyrics – ‘We’re just a room full of strangers / Looking for something to save us' – are an emo rallying cry for the outcasts, outsiders and outliers. Put simply, it's Bring Me at their best. While Malta fans got an early peek into the new song, we suspect that the band will be wheeling out Strangers for everyone else in no time.

7Emos are pretty good at handling the heat

If you’re planning a wild weekender, you might think somewhere like the sun-soaked Malta might not be the best fit. But as goths, emos, greebos and everyone in-between descended on the holiday isle, the alt. crowd proved as resilient as their sweat-proof eyeliner. More bands in tropical locations, plz.

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