Oval Space seems almost purpose-built for Hookworms. With one wall comprised entirely of widescreen windows displaying the monochromatic Hackney surrounding, it’s an effortlessly twenty-first century space, owing more to an arts exhibit than a grimy, sticky-floored gig venue.
Teetering on the edge of uncomfortably hot from the second Hookworms take to the stage, the venue’s walls soon seem to melt away, customary opener ‘Away/Towards’ presenting the five-piece as an imposing presence from the off. There’s little to no stage banter or on-stage antics – full-steam ahead is the name of the game this evening – but it’s on stage that Hookworms’ craftsmanship takes on a whole new life.
Occupying a self-carved niche amongst psychedelia, noise-punk and dance, theirs is a performance that feels effortlessly free form. The familiar components of ‘Radio Tokyo’ prompt cheers from the crowd as it slinks into the set, but there’s no pause for breath, the intoxicating concoction taking on new life with every pulsing bassline.
As things pick up and drive further forwards, contemplative chin-scratching gives way to exaggerated swaying, which in turn filters into a maelstrom of flailing bodies at the stage’s immediate front-and-centre. It’s a crowd that feeds ravenously off the ball of energy burning ever hotter on stage. An overly-confident and rather inconsiderate crowdsurfer barrels across the audience during ‘On Leaving’ and is subsequently sniped back into place by MJ’s exhausted glare, but it’s the only evidence of the band’s fiercely socio-political persuasions – tonight it’s the music itself which takes hold of every scrap of passion the members can muster.
Projections spill over onto the band and the psychedelic noodling hits ever-loftier heights, but just as the venue seems fit to disintegrate, ‘Retreat’ brings things back to a throbbing conclusion. Shuffling off-stage and drenched in sweat, Hookworms return to their daily anonymity; catharsis achieved for another twenty-four hours.
Photos: Carolina Faruolo
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