Perturbator/Hypno5e/Sleep Token at Ulu, London - live review

Digital delirium from Gallic synthwave guru

Art for Perturbator/Hypno5e/Sleep Token live at Ulu, London

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

It’s not often that the first support act is the one that leaves the biggest impression; after all, it’s the main event you pay to see at a gig. But, despite their short opening set, that’s exactly the kind of impact SLEEP TOKEN [7] have. Mostly, it’s because they are genuinely interesting and unique: a mix of crashing, doom-laden breakdowns and forlorn vocals that evoke the distinctly non-metal tones of Sam Smith. Somehow, it works. Next up areHYPNO5E [5], who start promisingly, entering the stage to a low electronic drone and ominous purple lighting that sets the scene for their meandering prog-metal. But the mood soon nosedives; they sound dated next to the prog/pop mashup of Sleep Token, and the encore and bow at the end is simply bizarre behaviour from a support band. PERTURBATOR [7], aka James Kent, despite being an anomalous presence in the metal scene, has a vocal fanbase. He enters, face half-hidden by an oversized black hoodie, and shows how he’s captured rock audiences. His tracks mix retro-powered EDM with a dark and dirty edge like Pendulum and MSTRKRFT, and there’s an unashamed nerdiness to his music. The gritty fuzz of opening track Neo Tokyo could just as easily soundtrack a rave as it could a frenzied shoot ’em up arcade game, as could most of his sinister beats (as anyone who’s seen his 8-bit inspired music videos will know). This is party music for people who don’t like party music.