The Brighter tour is Patent Pending’s second UK trek this year, and third within the last twelve months, if you count the main support slot afforded to them on Bowling For Soup’s farewell tour. The United Kingdom seems to have become a home-away-from-home for the American pop punkers, and not without good reason. Tonight, they play to one of vocalist Joe Ragosta’s favourite crowds: “I specifically asked for Rock City on a Saturday, because you people are fucking crazy,” he exclaims near to the start of their set. He’s already been proven right; tonight’s show sold out long in advance of any of the other gigs on this tour, and the venue is filling up nicely by the time first support act, The Hype Theory take the stage.
The Hype Theory are a five piece, female fronted pop rock band from Essex. The band are filled with a bubbling energy from the second they step on stage, and work tirelessly to get the crowd involved. Unfortunately, their set is let down by some notable sound issues; though front-woman Katy Jackson looked to be singing her heart out, her vocals were mostly drowned out in the mix – at least from my side stage vantage point. After a quick on stage chat with Patent Pending’s leading man, it was down to the last few songs. Audience participation led to a few audible woah-woahs, and each member of the bands overwhelming positive energy made The Hype Theory an enjoyable, if not perfect experience. (6.5)
The poster for tonight’s gig only advertised three bands tonight: The Hype Theory, Suburban Legends and Patent Pending. If you’d inspected the stage times on the door, however, you’d see another band added to that ensemble: Munford and Sons. Quickly, it was discovered that Munford and Sons were, sadly, not the real deal. Patent Pending had not convinced the folk-pop giants to return from hiatus, simply to support them in Nottingham’s 300~ cap Basement Instead, the name was a front for Patent Pending’s pet project: the fictional Nintendo Rock band Mario And The BrickBreakers.
Inspired by praise for the lead single from last years “Brighter”, the Nintendo themed “Hey Mario”, Patent Pending decided to do the rational thing and create a fictional rock band, featuring Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and a host of other characters, and release a faux ‘greatest hits’ album as them. On top of that, they then released a fully realised half hour documentary about this band. Since then, the band have been performing secret sets in costume as their fictional counterparts at their gigs, and tonight was no exception. They explode onto stage with a ferocious “Princess Peach” and follow it up with “Boom Boom (Pass the Mushroom)” before exiting the stage as quickly as they had arrived, leaving a stunned audience behind. (8)
A tough act to follow, but Suburban Legends did so with a cheeky gracefulness that only a Ska Punk band covering Disney’s Under The Sea is really capable of. They emerge onstage slowly, humbly. The room is quiet, almost silent. Suddenly the stage explodes. The band are frenetic, trumpets, guitars and limbs all flail around the stage with equal abandon. Despite a massive stage presence and an abundance of fun, the easy highlights of the set are the covers. The band seem aware of this however as despite being around since 1998 and having six albums and several more EPs worth of material to choose from, half of their support slot is dedicated to an array of ska-ified covers. (8)
Finally, it’s time for the headlining act and the room is abuzz with anticipation. Despite having already graced the stage three times already, a thrilling mixture of screams and shouts greats frontman Joe Ragosta upon his emergence along with the rest of Patent Pending. Although this tour is billed as the Brighter tour, not a single song from the bands latest album is played until song number three. This proves unimportant however, as the rapturous crowd lap up every song, new and old, with equal abandon. It could be argued that a slightly higher proportion of the set could have. Even dedicated to the new songs, but when the entire audience is having as much fun as this, it’s hard to argue with any of the bands decisions. All of the bands signature stage moves are present tonight; theirs a bout of crowd swimming, some venue exploration antics and a healthy dose of gurning faces and silly dancing.
Since Patent Pending’s big brother band, Bowling For Soup called quits on UK tours last year, this bunch have all but stolen their throne. They’ve got the stand up style banter down to a T, and bassist Corey DeVincenzo even busts out a pretty spot on Jarrett Reddick impression to cover for his absence in “Classic You”. Other highlights include the pirate themed The Whiskey, The Liar and The Thief, the bands breakthrough hit “Douchebag” and and a cover of the Friends theme tune, “I’ll Be There For You”
Several times in the night, Patent Pending make a real, emotional impact. Roughly half way through the night, the other members vacate the stage, leaving Ragosta alone with an acoustic guitar. Here, he performs “Spin Me Around,” a song written for his wife, who’d only just recently given birth to a new baby, he informs us, and the crowd cheers. Pre song, the singer gives a rousing speech – clearly on the edge of tears – surmising the discussion he and his wife had and how it lead to the mutual decision to continue with Patent Pending. It’s a real standout, and leads into one of the best songs in the bands arsenal. After this, the band return and rip through a few more high energy pop punk tunes, before pulling it down with the life affirming “One Less Heart To Break.” Many bands attempts at anti suicide songs can come off ham fisted and awkward, but Patent Pending tackle it with a heart wrenching finesse.
The band have finished up and left the venue by the spectacularly early time of 10pm tonight, skipping the faux dramatics of a long wait for the encore, proclaiming that they just want to let people hear the last two songs, “Brighter” and “Hey Mario.” This goes as planned with huge audience singalongs for both songs, jumping for coins during “Mario” and smiles all round by the time the last note had been played. Tonight, Patent Pending have succeeded beyond imagination, becoming Nottingham’s reining kings of fun in the process. (10)