Last night saw Islington’s Assembly Hall adequately packed for the psychedelic whirring of TOY. With the help of some lively compères: Huw Stephens (Radio1) and Jo Good (XFM), there was also the support of unknown hard-core band Hulkenburg and 60s pop 8-piece Hatcham Social. That wasn’t all though. Event organisers, Attitude is Everything, were in full force promoting the improvement of deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, with sign language interpretation, captioning of lyrics, and live subtitling of all speech on stage.
First up were the awesomely named Hulkenburg, a brash, heavy 2-piece that made their presence known instantly. Their set was pressed forward by the supersonic speed of their drumming and guitar, with Terry Ruffhead’s vocals doing as much as possible to cement the fury. Although short and impressive, there was a sense, that at times Ruffhead’s other weapon to hand (his drums) drowned out Warr’s jarring guitar, but one night’s inadequate PA system is another day’s redemption.
The second support act of the night was Hatcham Social, the polar opposite of Hulkenburg: steeped in a 60s hippy vibe and big in numbers, with all members on stage it would have been hard to find space to bomb the stage. If the music had encouraged that. Unfortunately, though Hatcham Social did not pick up where Hulkenburg left off. Instead the band professionally broke into a solid set of indie pop tunes that steadily grew in confidence.
With the 30 minute wait after Hatcham Social the crowd were suitably readied for TOY, whom emerged and launched straight into the 7 minute instrumental ‘Conductor’. The contrast in experience between TOY and their support acts was clearly evident and their set was a whirl of precise shoegaze, Krautrock and psychedelic rock. With other set list staples such as ‘Too Far Gone To Know’ TOY were the epitome of a band in control last night. Making them a must see for the summer festival circuit.