The world’s premier punk event The Vans Warped Tour is back in Britain for the first time since 1998, and tonight it is Cardiff’s turn to host the punk rock roadshow.
Traditionally a travelling summer festival, the UK version of Warped showcases the cream of the crop of punk talent old and new.
The considerable queue outside confirms that the name behind this tour has an enduring resonance. Older, more grizzled veterans mingle with young, spritely punk fans: their jeans as androgynous as their haircuts, their excitement irresistibly infectious.
The Story So Far get things underway. Their energetic pop-punk, all choppy guitars and passionate vocals, riles up an already-swelling crowd – no mean feat considering it’s not yet 7pm.
Vocalist Parker Cannon has a strength to his voice that adds intensity to their songs, ensuring they’re just as hard-hitting live as on 2011 debut Under Soil and Dirt.
The band have a considerable buzz about them right now, and it is not hard to see why when songs like Roam and Quicksand hit home with such considerable impact.
The venue is full by the time Man Overboard arrive onstage. Their brand of earnest, lightweight pop-punk might lack the punch of The Story So Far, but none of the energy.
The back-and-forth dual-vocal delivery inspires some spirited sing-alongs, particularly the shimmering, Jimmy Eat World-influenced Montrose and set closer Love Your Friends, Die Laughing.
The whole room screams refrain “shut up, shut up, it’s my turn to talk,” leaving big smiles on the faces of band and crowd alike.
Warped stalwarts New Found Glory are playing their 2002 classic Sticks and Stones in its entirety, and the fervent response that opener Understatement receives suggests that this is the set the crowd are here for.
Signature anthem My Friends Over You is met rapturously, and the crowd does not let up until the last note of The Story So Far has rung out.
An encore of select cuts from their back catalogue causes such a ruckus that is difficult to see the band through the sea of bodies cascading constantly from the stage.
The band cover almost as much ground as the audience, their performance honed to perfection over the years.
The younger bands on the Warped bill would do well to take note.
Veterans Less Than Jake are last to take the stage, launching straight into fan favourite Gainesville Rock City.
They lace their straightforward punk style with lashings of ska, a trumpet and trombone mixing seamlessly with the guitars.
The rhythms elicited by the band would be perfect for dancing were the audience not so crammed together that any sort of movement is rendered almost impossible.
A set blessed with gems from the bands’ 20 year back catalogue somehow finds time for an onstage dance-off between two of the crowd’s fatter members.
The winner is determined by whose armpits smell the worst, and as frontman Chris Demakes puts his nose to each one, it is almost possible to smell the sweat.
There is also time for a circle pit around the mixing desk, the band retaliating for a steward’s refusal to crowd surf. It becomes a joyous melee, hundreds of people beaming as they race around.
They end with two huge sing-alongs, History of a Boring Town and Plastic Cup Politics ringing every last drop of energy from a crowd who have been as entertained by the bands’ shenanigans as their songs.
By this point, the floor is absolutely littered with plastic beer bottles. The fact that this is a Friday night is not wasted on this crowd.
As Less Than Jake exit they invite everyone to join them at the venue’s Taf bar. From the delighted response they receive, it is clear that the Warped tour party does not end when the music stops.