Sometimes gigs are good, you sing along at the top of your lungs, dance around and have a great time. However, sometimes all the stars align and gigs become otherworldly, and that was Spanish Love Songs and Pkew Pkew Pkew at the Flapper the other night.
The support acts were decent enough and ultimately forgettable after what was to come, Lovebites opened up the stage with some good old straight up punk rock. Clearly inspired by bands like The Clash or The Ramones that trade frills for power chords, the band struggled to get the audience properly into the swing of things and engaged. It’s hard to be the first support act of a 4 band bill and I just wish the entire band would have rolled with it and fired out like they were the headliner.
Next up were Goodbye Blue Monday who have lyrics so miserable that there’s no better band for them to support than Spanish Love Songs. In fact, the band lie in that perfect mid-point between the two headliners and smashed their support slot, taking the rather lukewarm crowd and firing hard with speedy pop-punk and chanting lyrics. There’s room for improvement in the lyricism, with themes of depression and questioning life being a little too on the nose at times but I can only see the band ironing this out the more songs they write. I’m interested and excited to see whether we’ll see Goodbye Blue Monday headlining venues like this in a couple of years.
Now…. Pkew Pkew Pkew, the titans of feel good punk rock. They smashed their set reeling off blazing chorus after blazing chorus. There were few breaths and very little breaks in between the snappy punk anthems, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I was pleased to see that they played a lot from new record, Optimal Lifestyles, as it’s an absolute rager. I think the crowd hadn’t yet had the chance to fully acquaint themselves with the new record, but that’s fine, I sang loud enough for all of us.
We’re always gonna need bands like this that remind you to have a shit tonne of fun, bands that are so hyper-aware that we’re all going through rough times and don’t constantly need to be bogged down. When Pkew Pkew Pkew play their songs, they do so knowing that there will be people in the audience who feel like their youth is slipping away from them, or like they don’t matter or just feel plain sad. To these people, they play the music with speed and let them have the time of their lives.
Closing the show was Spanish Love Songs – and I’m happy to announce that they were just as good as everyone told me they would be. 2018’s Schmaltz ended up on a lot of people’s album of the year list due to the band’s incredible affliction for channeling pain into euphoria. They brought every inch of that to the stage and as a result played to a crowd of people screaming along as if they had written the lyrics themselves.
There’s such pain behind the words of Spanish Love Songs, but there’s an even bigger beauty in using the music to help you cope with life. Every line that was sung by the band that night was done for a reason, each word carried weight and story behind it. Halfway through the set I was stood swaying with my arms around people in the crowd who I hadn’t even spoken to and we were united by one thing: the music of Spanish Love Songs means everything to us.
It’s probably getting boring now how much I go on about that band, but I’m definitely not the only person that feels like this. What Spanish Love Songs did last year is write a classic, now they’re performing live it with every inch of passion, emotion, and power that went into making the record so great. Imagine where they can go next.