Roughly some 23 years ago, Paceville – the current Burger King location, to be precise – was the site of an epic party, the likes of which is unlikely to be seen again.

During this party, music, of the metal variety, was played. An amount of alcohol, maybe more than was strictly necessary, was indulged in by those present.

By the end of the night, or rather early morning, the site of this party was a mere shell of what it had been before. The revelling had taken its toll in a way I’d never seen before – all with the blessings of the outgoing owners, of course, lest there be any undue worry.

The occasion was the temporary closure, until it moved to its new location a few metres down the road, of Coconut Grove.

For those not in the know, for years Coconut was the only thing that came closest to a rock/metal club in Malta. At least after Rock Cafe, the first bastion, and Harlequin, which wasn’t quite everybody’s cuppa, closed down. For decades, Coconut – and, on occasion, the smaller and more hardcore Remedy upstairs – was the only (regular) haven for those who preferred the heavier side of music.

And it wasn’t just about the music, either, it was more about the idea that the place provided a safe haven for like-minded people. You know, people who wouldn’t point and shout ‘Satanist’ just because you listened to Judas Priest, or wore black all the time, or (if Remedy was your preferred hang-out) you were a guy with a fondness for black eyeliner and lipstick.

BNI performing at Remedy.BNI performing at Remedy.

The place had its flaws, mind you, and they were multiple. Over the years, the ‘purity’ (for lack of a better word) of the music was diluted. What had started out as a place where hardcore metal was the norm, slowly became more of a purveyor of commercial rock. Slayer became Linkin Park; Megadeth turned into Green Day.

Thank heavens for small mercies, the upstairs Remedy held out against the demands of teenyboppers who thought they were metal-heads just because they once listened to Nothing Else Matters. Small as it was, Remedy continued hosting some of Malta’s top acts – Angelcrypt, Martyrium, Cyberia, R.A.S., Ascendor and BNI are those that I can remember off the top of my head, but of course there were many, many others – as well as some foreign ones and the best DJs in this particular subculture.

But downstairs, in the main Coconut arena, so to speak, the weekend setlist had pretty much become just that – a set list of predictable tracks that you could set your watch to according to which track was playing. Was that the clock stricking midnight? Oh, must be time for Chop Suey, then.

And then drink prices went up, quality went down, tourists and strip clubs moved in can guess the rest. Coconut lost a lot of its lustre over the years, sure, but in truth it never quite completely lost the soft spot that its regulars harboured for it.

You will notice that I use the past tense because, yes, you guessed it. Coconut, and with it Remedy, is closing its doors once again. This time, permanently, as it succumbs to the dire trend that has taken over Paceville. Rumours about the club’s upcoming demise had been circulating for months – I myself attended a supposedly ‘last Remedy gig’ a couple of months ago.

Everyone scoffed and said that such a thing could not be. Until, that is, an official event dismally titled ‘Coconut Grove: The Closing Party’, cropped up on Facebook. Well, that was straight-to-the-point enough.

The rumours were, alas, confirmed. And before you know it, a tidal wave of nostalgia had taken over Facebook. Amidst, that is, the obvious complaints from some quarters along the lines of: “But Coconut wasn’t what it used to be, anyway” – no kidding, Sherlock, welcome to life and the way it changes you.

It wasn’t just about the music,either; it was more about the idea that the place provided a safe haven for like-minded people

At the time of writing, the event has already  attracted some 1K people who are either attending or interested. Chances are, this will turn out to be another 1990s styled party, albeit without the damages that were inflicted during the first one. Because, you know, the times they are a-changing.

And, in the middle of all this, we find the doom and gloom cries about how Malta’s rock scene is dead. This is where I part company with many Coconutters (yes, the regulars actually turned that into a real word).

Saying that the rock and metal scene is dead because of the closure of one location – as beloved as it used to be – is bull. The rock scene did not die with the closure of Rock Cafe, and neither will it die with the demise of Coconut.


Claiming that is being utterly disrespectful to all the people in the scene who work hard to organise events within this genre. It is disrespectful to Maltese rock and metal bands, most of which put up a very good effort to hold regular gigs.

There’s always a metal gig happening somewhere. Seriously. It’s also disrespectful of the multiple people who, every year, organise metal festivals and offer bands an opportunity to showcase their music live.

Voices of the Succubi is the most recent; add Metal over Malta, Malta Doom Metal Festival, Raging Waters, Shellshock, Xtreme Metal Assault, a number of metal-themed boat parties like Metal Waves... there is actually quite a list and, in fact, apologies to those that I’ve inadvertently left out.

As for regular bars where you’re likely to get your metal on, there’s Kickstart in St Venera for starters. Sure, it is not the legend that Coconut Grove turned out to be, but with a bit of time and if the scene gives it a chance, who knows?

And this is why this piece is titled Ode to an Era, rather than End of an Era. Because it doesn’t really have to be, not for those who actually want to keep what’s left of the scene alive, anyway.

Coconut Grove: The Closing Party takes place on September 24 at Coconut Grove, Paceville.

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