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The Pattern 20th August 2001 Track & Field at Toynbee Hall Arts Café, Spitalfields

Driven into an anticipatory frenzy by Trail Of Dead's forthcoming Reading appearance, we decide to staunch our cravings for noisy manic Yank action by going to see The Pattern, and what a feast of crazed crunchy chaos we get to scoff.

Arriving early, we snigger at a man in a silly hat watching not v. good scouse support Of Arrowe Hill soundcheck. He turns round and it's (ooh arr!) Martin Carr. He's lost weight, though probably not for long as he demolishes a pizza before buggering off into the night.

The Arts Café is tiny, like watching bands play in your living room (if your living room happens to have red velvet seats and a tile-topped bar). As people pile in for the ramshackley fab Comet Gain it also becomes very sweaty. The Pattern's singer Christopher Applegren grooves away at the front, offering the band sips of his pint and hollering backing vocals into a mic that David Comet Gain has twisted round towards him.

At the end of Comet Gain's set, the Track & Field DJ plays The Standells' 'Dirty Water' and Chris frugs squiffily to it alongside some approving girls. In fact, there is a whole host of appreciative females (including two Action Timers) lining the front of the minuscule stage as the band set up their stuff. Maybe they're here to watch The Pattern's roadie/merchie man (from whom Kitten gleefully purchases a badge) who is much better looking than anyone in the band. It's nice to see a gang of girls instead of the usual bunch of sweaty ill-mannered blokes. I remember a quote from Pattern guitarist Andy, '"I've been noticing lately a lot of women have showed up at shows. For years, it's been such a male-dominated scene and now there's a lot of women bands, and to have them putting on shows or being at shows, it's refreshing and fun." Yeah, you'd better believe it.

So, kit squeezed onto stage, retina-scorching flashing lights set and California flag hoisted aloft, The Pattern are ready to begin, lurching into 'Finger Us'. It's an instantly infectious thumpy garage punk thrill, rawer and more exhilarating than their admittedly pretty darn raw recorded sound. It's obvious why their current mini-LP is called 'Immediately', there's no slow build up here, you're blam-a-lammed and that's it.
The band's energy is contagious, though there's no room to swing a microbe let alone the mic stand which Chris keeps chucking off the edge of the foot high stage only for it to be lovingly caught and handed back by members of The Pattern Girlie Posse. Errant mic stands are the least of it as Chris wriggles around frantically in the limited space, swiveling his hips, shaking his mop, sliding up and down the mic stand when it comes his way, wrapping its cord around his neck, jittering with primal soul punk sex appeal. He throws himself on top of his band mates, facing the stoic curly-haired guitarist and leaning into him with all his weight one minute, almost lying on the drums the next. He also has the questionably endearing habit of sucking his thumb between verses, which has a certain loony charm until he does it in between songs, when it becomes a bit freaky.
They're a disparate, motley bunch. Chris, in his sixties garage cool of fawn cords (so tight the pockets are hanging inside out) and dark brown polyester shirt, kind of matches bass man Carson Bell's Byrdsy hair cut, but then there's Jim the skate-punky looking drummer, all green nail varnish and bright scarlet hair under his wooly hat. There are the two guitarists, Jason and Andy, one with the aforementioned curls and the other looking more hardcore with short black hair and tattoos, thrusting his guitar neck into the crowd confrontationaly. The fact that they're not all pristinely turned out in immaculate decade-authentic retro threads goes with the music, which doesn't come across as time-warp museum piece fodder. Another quote, from Chris, "It's not like we're trying to reinvent the wheel or go and be skronky and bleepy or whatever, but we do realize that to really validate your existence as a band you should differentiate yourself from whatever else is out there, or you might as well just be a cover band." Heh, 'skronky' I like it.
The set list has all the songs from 'Immediately' in order plus 'She's A Libra', 'Selling Submarines', 'No Books' and 'Nothing of Value. Unfortunately, Kitten fave 'Sunned Things Speak' rumbles to a halt as something goes wrong with the drums. Chris stumbles about, burbling an explanation of how the song's about not having enough sun or getting too much sun or something, until it's decided they'll come back to it later. The joyful, fuzzy blast of it all is so powerful, I decide to forgive the lyric in 'Breakfast' that goes, 'Fix me breakfast, then please go.' stumbling

They play for just the right amount of time. The drum kit gets kicked over and tips into the crowd, leaving us desperate for our next fix of stumbling 'punk boogie with poetry,' chaos.

Before the final song, a wild eyed lanky boy who's been hollering encouragement all the way through demands his right to dance and pushing his way forward, proceeds to flail his limbs in an ungainly manner, climbing onto the stage and onto Chris. One small girl is outraged and sets about him with her handbag, whilst another upends her pint over him, but he carries on regardless, ricocheting around lost in rock 'n' roll exhilaration.

Quotes taken from and

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