LIVE: Spanish Love Songs / Pkew Pkew Pkew @ The Hope And Ruin, Brighton

By Andy Joice

Starting at the bottom of Brighton’s West Street, heading north away from the sea, you’ll find some familiar names. Wetherspoons. Yates. Revolution. Head a bit further up that road and you’ll find The Hope And Ruin, a quintessential Brighton hipster dive bar. The kind of place that has weird cat pictures and sign posts on the walls, bare brickwork and pipes, and an eclectic mix of rock, punk and folk blaring from the speakers. A selection of local IPAs, bitters and cheap lagers on tap. It’s a staple of the Brighton music scene, hosting the likes of Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, Jeff Rosenstock, Together PANGEA, and hundreds of others.

While the two opening bands All Better and Goodbye Blue Monday played their hearts out, it’s clear there was one band everyone was there to see. That’s not to say they weren’t fantastic, purely that the room was sparse.

Canadian natives Pkew Pkew Pkew completed a solid set to a warming, albeit slightly tepid crowd. It was a grey Tuesday night, and the audience needed something to kick them into gear – a welcome challenge for Pkew Pkew Pkew. Peppering their set with hits like ‘Mid-20s Skateboarder’, ‘65 Nickels’, and ‘Point Break’, they ramped the tempo up and brought pure pop-punk joy.

By the time they hit final song ‘Asshole Pandemic’, their frantic sound had brought energy to the audience, with limbs flailing throughout the last few songs. As the crowd dissipated for a top up and a quick smoke, there was a palpable tension amongst them.

The devilishly handsome Spanish Love Songs vocalist Dylan Slocum had been struggling with glandular fever a few days prior to the show, but that didn’t hold him back. Considering it was severe enough for them to cancel their Paris gig, his delivery was flawless. Strong and powerful, yet maintaining his trademark vibrato and fragility. Kicking off with ‘Schmaltz’ opener ‘Nuevo’ before bounding straight into ‘Sequels, Remakes and Adaptions’, the room became a hotbed of electricity.

Bouncing between all the major hits on ‘Schamlz’, as well as 2019 single ‘Losers’ and a cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Funeral’, Slocum had the crowd like warm putty in his hand. Even the slight hiccup in final song ‘Beer & NyQuil (Hold It Together)’ was passed off as a lighthearted moment – with Slocum, tongue firmly in cheek, asking the band how many times they had played it.

As the band let the last notes of ‘Beer & NyQuil’ ring out, the restless crowd demand one more song – and it’s put to a vote. ‘Buffalo Buffalo’ or ‘Aloha To No One’. Immediately, Spanish Love Songs kicked into an unofficial encore, with the whole room singing the chorus of ‘Buffalo Buffalo’ back at the sweat soaked Slocum. And as soon as it started, it was over. The crowd were as drained as the band – a clear indication everyone at the venue had left a part of themselves there.

Before the show, one of the local promoters had said it would be ‘a night of being sad then happy then sad again’. And they were absolutely right. Happy to be in that room, filled with incredible music, sweat and emotion. Sad that it couldn’t last forever.