LIVE: Pkew Pkew Pkew @ The Star & Garter, Manchester

By Tom Walsh

At a time when everything is just awful, it’s wonderfully wholesome to spend an evening dancing in a backstreet pub to songs about skateboarding and drinking too much. Pkew Pkew Pkew bring the party this evening, packed with beaming smiles and that wry Canadian wit we’ve all heard so much about.

It’s a well-trodden path for excellent punk bands to emerge from the snowy streets of Toronto and venture over to the UK. Following in the footsteps of contemporaries such as PUP, The Flatliners, and Cancer Bats, Pkew Pkew Pkew deliver infectious, self-deprecating energy and pizzazz to the basement clubs and pubs of this rainy little island. Manchester’s Star and Garter is almost too perfect a venue for an evening of this kind. A beloved institution to Mancunians – who have fought hard to keep it open – it provides an important community feel to each show. And, with Pkew Pkew Pkew, they are playing to a congregation of converts.

Every passing song is fast, jovial and, occasionally, tinged with deeper meaning of lost love and faded youth. There’s a double header of “songs about buildings”, as lead vocalist Mike Warne describes them, in ‘The Polynesian’ and the wonderfully daft ‘Asshole Pandemic’, and then the odes of just being a painfully normal person in ‘65 Nickels’.

The whole set is a celebration of the normality that many of those in attendance feel. It’s the camaraderie between friends, the simple pleasures of ordering a pizza, and the regular necessity of drinking in a car park with your best pal. All of this is wrapped up in Pkew Pkew Pkew’s bouncy brand of pop/gruff punk. They beam with smiles in the classic tale of ill-advised exercise in ‘Mid-20s Skateboarder’ and the wistful ‘Drinkin’ Days’. Shots are passed out from the crowd, subsequently downed by bandmates, before launching into the salute to everyone that has ever partaken in pre-drinks, ‘Before We Go Out Drinking’.

When everything is a bit rubbish out there, it’s amazing what singing about beer and pizza can do for the soul. And, in Pkew Pkew Pkew, you have the perfect band to sing along with.