The Thekla, a boat nestled rather discreetly within the Bristol docks, is without doubt my favourite gig venue. From SWMRS to Wheatus, this small room has been packed to the hilt with talent for years. It seems only natural then, that Patent Pending should want to return to this stage. The Long Island lads have waited a year (yes, a whole damn year!) to grace us with their iconically vivacious, bouncy pop punk, but back they are, and they’re kicking up one hell of a storm.
Doors opened just as the heavens did, and everyone rushed inside with even greater gusto than usual. The venue, cold before, grew warm and friendly, and everyone was certainly ready to burn off a few of those Easter calories! Sweet Little Machine, hailing from Sheffield, were the first to perform for the rowdy West Country crowd. The stand out song of their set, ‘Playgrounds’, highlighted their well-honed crowd participation skills. Frontman, Alex, nailed this. Both the band and crowd sang “We used to own these playgrounds. We used to own these streets” with the passion and fire of all the punk rockers before them. We were all warmed up, and pretty damn excited, by the end of their short set.
Eternal Boy then took to the stage for their UK debut, and I thoroughly hope that there are more shows to come! Their endearing charm, coupled with endless humility, won the crowd over in seconds. The set opener, ‘Brand New Me’, presented us with the defiant, angry voice of someone who knows they deserve better: “I would not amount to be anything in your eyes“. The entirety of the set was nothing less than an absolute pleasure to watch, though ‘Awkward Phase’ was definitely my favourite. The drumming and vocals, coupled with Joe’s bassline, were insatiably catchy. Frankly, the song is inspired. Although many of us were deprived of them until now, Eternal Boy utterly smashed their support slot. In short, the Pittsburgh trio have undeniably stolen my heart. Whilst I am deeply saddened to say that they are not doing the whole tour. On the latter dates, they are to be replaced by Newcastle-based Boy Jumps Ship, who are equally as lovely.
Patent Pending certainly had a lot to live up to. The sold-out show they played here on the ‘Brighter’ tour is still one of my top concert experiences. This one didn’t disappoint either. The Thekla is a sweat box, and the boys were going to make sure we knew it. From Joe’s slightly idiotic leap from the balcony, to the boundless energy they all have, the show was truly something else. The set started with ‘Little Miss Impossible’, an off-piste choice, but one which worked exceedingly well in getting the crowd going. Hit after hit followed this, from ‘Love Is Anarchy’ to ‘We’re Freakin’ Out’, the set had everything. The guys even had time to show One Direction how it’s done in ‘Anti-Everything’, showcasing their comedic, yet oddly graceful, dance moves!
The boys also made sure to spice up our lives by performing a track they had released that very day. In fact, the most surreal moment of the night was easily when they covered a Spice Girls song. Yes, you read that right. Initially, the crowd seemed unable to fathom what was taking place, but relaxed into the punk cover of a guilty pop pleasure… and on Victoria Beckham’s birthday too! If I may briefly digress, I think that my favourite part of any punk show is the moment that everyone in the pit sings lyrics from the bottom of their hearts about something that broke them. At a Patent Pending show this often, though not always, happens during ‘One Less Heart To Break’. The song, imploring the suicidal to stick it out for one more night, is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. While the band prepared for this song, Joe gave the crowd one hell of a pep talk and, as the song progressed, the notion that you are never alone at a Patent Pending show rang truer than ever. The Second Family looked after anyone who became emotional, and to see this sense of community and unconditional love was heart-warming.
Just as crucial to the success of the set were ‘Brighter’ and ‘This Love Can Save Us All’. These songs highlight the intense adversity and struggle that Patent Pending have faced over the years. After all, contrary to images that the media may present, being in a band is far from easy. The emotional performance of these songs reminds you how hard they have worked to be where they are, and certainly reminds me how proud I am of them.
The set was finished with the song for which the band are perhaps most well-known, ‘Douchebag’. Well, we all know at least one, right? After a crescendo of cymbals, and a frankly spectacular air high-five, the show was over. All I can say is that I am thoroughly excited to see more of them. Pop punk isn’t dead. It just took a break from us for a year. Patent
Pending are on tour until April 28th, and are playing Teddy Rocks Festival on April 29th. ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’ is available on May 26th, and is available to buy now at their UK shows.
Review: Amy Jefferies.
Band image: Nick Karp