AntiPop Records @ Maguire's Pizza Bar

Pizza is pretty punk rock. It’s greasy, it’s fucking good (if not for your health), and you eat it with your hands from a box with a load of other people. How could it not be punk? Hence, Maguire’s Pizza Bar as the ideal venue for AntiPop’s three-day August showcase of their snottiest and best. Filling in for the indisposed Ohmns, HELLO MABEL prove early on that punk is not all about speed, 18-hole DMs, and egg whites in your hair (though all three are in abundance this weekend). An acoustic duo singing in Lanky twang, they release their pent-up anger in wordy, thought-provoking bursts, including covers from Against Me! and Red Sea Radio (“No one’s heard of them, but they’re amazing. The singer sounds like a tree”).

FLAT BACK FOUR, EPIC PROBLEM, CHEWED UP, and MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS paper over the cracks between puerile pop-punk and hardcore via Celtic Oi!, leading smoothly to breakout stars RASH DECISION on Saturday night. The noise they make is glorious, furious, and Dave Decision screams like Tom Araya stepping on a LEGO brick. This is the soundtrack to people throwing themselves around a little black box, no chitchat, just sweat. Playing like they drove seven hours from Cornwall to be here, they’re far and away the centrepiece of the whole weekend, and they scrawl their setlist on a pizza box too.

Sometimes you need three chords played really fast through a tinny amplifier just to keep the circle going, and there are plenty of bands on the bill doing just that: Liverpool legends DOWN AND OUTS, Manchester’s REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN, and antifascist Scots RANDOM SCANDAL. But there are a few curveballs. “Don’t fucking clap, it only encourages us,” plead Saturday openers WANWEIRD, representing the neuro-atypical faction that Devo so willingly served. “We’re all wondering what punk in the 21st Century means. Well… it’s all about the face,” they say, before playing their three-second-long ‘hit’ Punkface for the fourth time.

If punk is all about the face, then STUCK IN A RUT are exemplars of facecore. This set is an EP launch, and they play/scream out of their skin accordingly, climbing over the soundsystem, giving the home crowd stomach-churning shifts of tempo, neck muscles and forehead veins a-poppin’. Finally, on Sunday, 2 SICK MONKEYS provide a warm-hearted finish to the weekend (their ninth day on tour) proving that, despite the screaming and shoving, most of these card-carrying punks are sweethearts beneath the studded, patched denim of their jackets. After three days’ Attenborough-like observation, it’s impossible not to abandon my dispassionate vantage point and join the circle for Anti-Pop’s “best band in the known universe”.

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