Last June when Canadian pop punks Pkew Pkew Pkew played their debut London show (and I think their debut UK show) at the not grimy New Cross Inn it was considered by most who were there, including myself, to be the gig of the year. Last week the four piece were back in the UK playing a short run of shows leading up to a big gig supporting The Hold Steady in London. To finish up that short run of the shows, "The Boys" were back at the really not grimy New Cross Inn to headline a show that would also be the London album launch for their brand new album, Optimal Lifestlyes, which came out the previous week. This was a Be Sharp Promotions show so obviously the line-up was stacked and was looking to be another gig of the year contender.
Up next was an act I plan on championing a lot in 2019 as I think they are absolutely amazing. Katie MF are a three piece who we first featured as our Band Of The Week last year, we then caught them supporting Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves at the New Cross Inn in September and thought they were superb. Their EP Learning How To Lie even found a place into Emma's top ten EPs of 2018. We were very excited when we learnt that Katie MF would be playing this show, knowing how well it would sell and the size of the crowd they'd get to play too. From the start of their set Katie had the crowd's attention with her fantastic voice. Playing anti-folk punk rock music with a slight country twinge, I was captivated by what I was seeing and hearing immediately and was so pleased to see that so many other people were really getting into it. They played a selection of songs from Learning How To Lie, the fantastic first single Kiss Me Again and a couple of news songs including Lucky Mother Fucker, which is about Katie surviving a near death experience, and Apocalypse, which we've had a sneaky listen to thanks to an upcoming CPRW project – both of which sound fantastic live. Finishing with the hard hitting political song Mr Cameron Mr Gove, Katie MF the person is a woman of considerable talent and Katie MF the band are surely set for a big 2019? I really hope so.
The night had already been a hell of a lot of fun and was flying by with the main event still to come. Pkew Pkew Pkew's debut album was my album of the year in 2016 and their brand new album Optimal Lifestyles is definitely a big contender for my top album of 2019. If you were to listen to both albums back to back (which I have) you'll notice a bit of a difference in sound, with Optimal Lifestyles showcasing a more mature sound. Since first hearing Optimal Lifestyles, I've been wondering how this would work live. Starting out with a couple of favourites from the brand new album (Still Hanging Out After These Years and 65 Nickels) it was clear that a lot of people had been listening to the new album as the songs were treated like an old friend that you've known for years. As you might imagine from an album launch party the seventeen song set was heavy on tracks from Optimal Lifestyles and I don't think Pkew could believe the great receptions each song got. My favourites were The Polynesian, Point Break (which we had a lot of fun air saxophoning to), Skate 2 and Thirsty And Humble. I was slightly disappointed that Adult Party didn't get a run through. Of course the self titled album wasn't ignored completely and drew some of the biggest sing-alongs you'll see at the New Cross Inn all year. I'll never ever tire of songs like Prime Minister Of The Defence, Kathie Lee + Hoda, Mid-20's Skateboarder, Bloodclot and Asshole Pandemic. There were some cool moments when Eat Defeat's Jimmy joined the band to sing Bloodclot and OLIC's Mark joined the band for the final song of the night Asshole Pandemic (until the New Cross Inn broke). Pkew Pkew Pkew are one of those special live bands that can get such amazing reactions from a crowd, with some wonderfully catchy pop punk that you can't help but want to shout along with at the top of your lungs and just launch your fists in the air. The band look to be having the time of their lives on stage as well and bass player Emmett, who was stood just in front of us, seemed truly touched by the reaction the New Cross Inn crowd were giving them. Unfortunately the show finished a little earlier than planned because of some electrical problems but that didn't stop everyone from going home with big smiles on their faces. I can't wait for Pkew Pkew Pkew to return to the New Cross Inn in May with Spanish Love Songs. That's going to be some party.
This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.