Live Review: SQUID at YES in Manchester 5 July 2019

I cast my thoughts back to October 2018 as I’m listening to the ever enigmatic music aficionado, Mr James Endeacott. He is at a small literary event in Halifax, amusing the crowd with short stories from his musical adventures, followed by an audience Q&A. “If you could recommend just one up and coming band, who would it be?” *Rubs head, frowns, peers over his reading glasses* “Squid!

Anyone bothering to read this will have no doubt heard the fabulous ‘Houseplants’, a real breakthrough and deservedly rinsed on the 6 Music playlist. As a frequent gig goer, I have to admit that Squid had totally evaded me until tonight. Missed opportunities at numerous indoor/outdoor festivals as well as support slots culminate with a  great amount of excitement that I’d eventually see Squid tonight!

The band take to the stage and fire into the fantastic, creeping build of ‘Rodeo’. Ollie admits that he’s still recovering from Glastonbury, emotionally and physically, admitting he could “do with a hug”. They blast through four more tunes and sound absolutely fantastic, contradicting any fears this could be a fatigued ‘post-Glasto’ experience. Living up to their “Talking Heads on the gear” moniker, their music traverses a wide range of influences that fizzes with youth and originality.

The crowd happily shrug away, but absolute merry hell breaks loose when they unleash ‘Houseplants‘. Half of the venue immediately descends into a sweaty mosh-pit, which then sets the tone for the rest of the gig. Despite the following songs being introduced as “don’t worry we’re playing some slower ones now”, we are further entertained by frequent crowd surfers precariously passed around, legs touching the ceiling and elevated towards (and nearly onto!) the stage. Equally, I’m amused to see the band scramble over each other on the small stage, often changing instruments and clambering over the interesting drum stool/seat. Brass is swapped for a bass (Laurie), and bass for a guitar (Louis) and whilst Ollie picks up the lions share of lead vocals, other members frequently rotate and contribute.

Almost apologetically, the band ask permission to play an immediate encore, given they are slightly over-running on the published curfew. We are treated to the expected ‘Dial’, which again causes a rowdy, energetic reaction from the crowd. The hour has flown by, the energy and tightness of the band making it an extraordinary performance.

Drenched in sweat myself, I buy a t-shirt from the merch stall for two reasons:- 1) I really like the design and it’s a handy wardrobe change for the rest of the evening 2) I genuinely felt like the £8 ticket was under priced. Just like James, I’ll be telling all my friends (who I haven’t already pestered) that they really, really need to see Squid; because they really are the shit.

A new EP will be released on Speedy Wunderground this summer. They play the Trades Club on August 22nd (along with Black Country, New Road), in between numerous festival appearances.

(Photo Credit: Piran Aston Music Photography)

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