Squid manage to bring the same intense energy to their live performances as you can hear on their debut record.
The recent influx of British post punk has certainly been one of the most enjoyable occurrences in music over the last few years. Black Midi seemed to be the first to give audiences the stern kick that a great punk record can hold with their debut record Schlagenheim (and built upon their sound with their recent follow-up, Cavalcade), and Black Country, New Road brought jazz more directly into the widely varied mix of sounds involved in the genre. Squid brought a more joyful and zany energy to the movement with their excellent debut record released earlier this year titled Bright Green Field.
So, it should be no surprise that seeing them live was an experience punctuated by musical chaos and ear-damaging highs – percussionist and lead vocalist Ollie Judge’s impossibly energetic performance, which even saw him walk around his drum-kit in circles whilst managing to still play perfectly, is the perfect summary of Squid’s music as a whole. It is music dedicated to the joy of sound and, more specifically, the joy of the strange sounds that can be made through experimentation. Following the wonderful guest spot from Gwenifer Raymond, who delivered intense acoustic instrumentals beautifully and is currently on her own UK tour, the chaos ensued.
Ensuring to play the fan favourites from Bright Green Field, including my two personal favourite tracks ‘Boy Racers‘ and the masterful prog-esque ‘Narrator‘, and filling the time to set-up between tracks with intense drone interludes, Squid managed to turn their performance into a super memorable experience that went beyond the quality of their album and became something more; a great shared experience for all involved. The range of the tracks played, from disorienting and overwhelming to surprisingly gentle at times also made sure that the audience never knew what to expect, creating a delicate tension which only made the intensity of their performances more impactful.
The range within the tracks is only further aided by the range of instruments visited by all members of the band. Three guitarists, three vocalists, keyboard work, multiple percussionists and the use of synthesisers throughout complimented the great variation of the band’s work beautifully and, again, served to make their performance all the more memorable. The personality coming through in the nuances of the riffs and the lyrics were even better live than on the record, with each member’s visible enjoyment of having a moment to add something special to a track showing the strength of their chemistry as a group.
What was seen here was a perfect bland of absolute chaos and musical harmony. Explosively high energy renditions of excellently crafted tracks with no low point and no filler to be found. Being a cult band involved in the new experimental rock niche as they are, potentially some who hadn’t been familiar with Squid may have been a little confused, but for every person who was prepared for what was to come, there is no chance that they were left disappointed in what the band delivered. It was a night to remember, marking the ferocious power of a band who remain overlooked in comparison to their contemporaries.
Squid’s tour is set to move through Europe and America. You can buy tickets here.
Listen to the lead single from their debut record Bright Green Field, ‘Narrator‘ on YouTube below: