LIVE: HOOKWORMS’ LOST WEEKEND – ISLINGTON MILL, SALFORD

As Far Out arrives at Salford’s Islington Mill for the second night of Hookworms’ Lost Weekend event, the foundations of the former industrial space can almost still be felt shaking from the reverb of the previous evening’s entertainment.

With more bands and the joys of the weekend now in full flow, the anticipation is huge among an impressive attendance, despite there still being several hours until the headliners take to the stage. A carefully curated support bill has ensured that this is the gig so many have in mind tonight.

Early evening is one of darkness and solace in the mill’s basement space. Sets from Moon Gangs and Sealings are lower tempo than the high-octane sounds of Hookworms, but a moodiness and woozy atmosphere sets things up perfectly for the second installment of an event that seems to have captured the most pragmatic of festival vibes.

Mazes will be a name more than just familiar to many in the audience, having formed in Manchester back in 2009. The band combine infectious harmonies and an (at times) almost sugary indie sound with a more industrial edge that offers the perfect balance of catchy pop and subversive rock ‘n’ roll. During this set, the venue really starts to fill and the already sweltering temperature makes us wonder how unbearable it might become when Hookworms rock the mill.

The pace drops off slightly again for the following set from Vision Fortune. Their brand of eerie electronica, mixed with a spoken word vocal is an engaging prospect. However, it fails to capture the imaginations of one or two in the audience, who can be seen gradually sloping out for a mid-set smoke. The trio’s frontman puts everything into the show, but seems occasionally disgruntled amid the odd sound issue. All in all though, the atmosphere remains buoyant and Vision Fortune receive a grateful response following the set’s closer.

Perhaps hailed more positively on the whole are Cold Pumas, who despite my preconceived dislike for drummers taking on lead vocal duties, are just too good to not become immersed in. A driving post-rock sound is married with short and sharp vocal delivery that feels like a jab in the arm with every lyric. When the band are in full flow, with intertwining riffs that bounce off each other at will, there are even a few similarities to the angular rock ‘n’ roll of Manchester / Salford hybrids Joy Division.

Cold Pumas culminate in a huge krautrock-style jam that stays firmly in time with a backdrop of flashing images that are reflected off the mill wall behind the stage. There’s a feeling that tonight Hookworms have the perfect undercard.

They’ve recently been spending most of their time locked away working on album number two, a factor that means a few people could be forgiven if they expect Hookworms to be a little bit rusty – but within seconds of walking on stage it is clear that such theories are completely unfounded.

Upon the band’s request, all the monitors are jacked up as high as the mill’s neighbours will put up with and the set boasts an unbridled intensity from the very off. The Yorkshire five-piece meander through an hour of the most exciting kind of psych-rock, exploring the peaks and troughs of reverb and distortion in a way that prevent even the most distractible from taking their eyes off the stage for more than a nanosecond.

It is a different set to the one that preceded on Friday, but all the big hitters from the band’s debut record Pearl Mystic are there – a scenario that means fans can be seen rocking their heads back and forth with the greatest of gusto.

They don’t say much, and why would they with a repertoire that sprawls itself out and feels like a soundscape that could quite plausibly go on all night. An undoubted highlight is Pear Mystic’s opener ‘Away / Towards’, which as always, creates an encapsulating collage of howling synth and driving guitar.

Glimpses of what’s to come on the follow-up are full of promise and are assimilated right into the set without a bat of an eyelid. After leaving the stage, there is an impression that Hookworms do not yet see themselves as an encore kind of band, but that’s a view certainly not shared by the audience.

As a result, the quintet return and absolutely bring the house down with a rendition of the electrifying ‘Away/Towards’. Frontman MJ thanks both nights’ crowds for their enthusiastic support and the reaction is deafening as those who’ve made the trip to Salford applaud a show that has been nothing short of spectacular. When the new LP arrives, we can offer no shrewder advice than to make it your duty to catch Hookworms live.

Patrick Davies

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