Review: Patent Pending – The Fleece, Bristol

Last year I travelled up to Bristol to watch Bowling for Soup at the O2 and came away raving about one of the support bands, Patent Pending, who blew me away with their humour and energy. I was more than keen to catch them towards the end of their tour, gearing up for Reading and Leeds festival, in the much more “intimate” setting of the iconic Fleece pub, with it’s metal pillars and much smaller stage.

Arriving early to ensure that I got a good position near the stage I was more than a little frustrated to find that the advertised door times were wrong and that there was to be a VIP session before the general ticket holders were allowed access. Unusually though the venue arranged for us to have access to the VIP set, so we got to witness one of the most chilled and relaxed fan sessions I have ever seen. The band played three sound check songs to a small audience but then left the stage and in a completely unstructured and genuine manner simply wandered amongst the fans for some time, posing for selfies and chatting to every person who wanted to spend time with them.

Soon the doors opened fully and the evening proper commenced with a set of self described “space rock” from Neverthere, featuring Patent Pending guitarist Robert Ragosta (cleverly disguised by not wearing a hat!). With an unusual line up of two guitars (one playing a sequencer at the same time) and a drummer, they laid down an interesting and complex sound that went down well with the already sizeable crowd.

Following them onstage were Pennsylvania pop punk trio Eternal Boy. Raising the energy another notch it became clear just how close the three bands were when I noticed Joe Pending watching the entire set from the sidelines and even popping on stage at one point to take the mic. Their set of extremely catchy songs left my gig companion bopping and smiling.

Finally to Patent Pending for one of the most fun gigs I have witnessed in a very long time.

Firstly, there is Joe Pending. A walking advert for Ritalin, his hyperactivity is extraordinary. Usually at a gig I try to get the odd air shot but with Joe it is hard to catch him on his feet! He comes onstage and promptly launches himself into the crowd, performs Mario-esque leaps, swings around the metal roof support right in front of the stage (having chatted at the VIP set earlier about how he kept wondering whether he could swing right around and back to the stage) and chats constantly and with no little humour. Tonight for some reason the target of much of his humour is Hull, where the tour was originally supposed to visit. I am used to bands proclaiming wherever they play to be their favourite place ever, but Joe’s insistence that Bristol was “better than Hull” raised huge cheers. He also at one point chats openly and honestly about mental health, and reminds everyone present that this is a group where they can simply hang out, a second family, that will always welcome them. Next to him is Robert Ragosta who, as Joe gleefully points out, looks completely different to the guitarist playing in the first support band simply because he is wearing a hat!

Patent PendingEvery song is a gem and the energy keeps rising, mixed with laughter and fun. Some of the dance moves are outrageous. At one point Ragosta attempts a move whilst playing lying further and further back, then overbalances and has to be helped to his feet by a roadie. His convulsing with laughter, and the “assistance” of other band members drawing attention to his plight, a welcome change from polished stage moves. The entire band end up lying down for one song. Possibly the worst stage dive in history is witnessed when the audience part like the Red Sea instead of supporting the attempt. The stage gets more and more crowded with musicians as others join the band onstage, and nobody really seems to know what the curfew time is so every song feels like the last of the evening. It is sheer fun underpinned by great tunes. The arrival on stage of two small children dressed as Mario and Luigi further cements the silliness and family feel of the evening.

At the end of a set many bands disappear to cool down before appearing to chat to the few remaining fans, but Joe and the guys simply step off stage, and, dripping with sweat, walk to the merch table where almost the whole crowd forms a line to shake their hands.

I hope Reading and Leeds showed their appreciation because these guys are something a bit different and some of the most genuine people in the business.

Review and pics – Rob Wilkins

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