Watching Squid live from afar

Music Editor Daniel sends out an expert team to review Squid live at the Barrowlands.

Squid defy categorisation. They combine a plethora of approaches, from post-punk to krautrock, creating whirling compositions of tension and release. They are, naturally, a band which any good music editor should want to see; however, when duty calls elsewhere, who better to send to such a gig than three of Glasgow’s most astute musical connoisseurs.

Wilf Pearce, Arial Waxman, and Kye O’Hagan: members of significant bands in Glasgow’s upcoming music scene and live newcomers to Squid, ventured to the Barrowlands on 21 October in order to partake in the 2023 O Monolith tour. This is what they thought of the show.

Despite being regulars at the Barrowland Ballroom, like all people, they were mesmerised by Glasgow’s most iconic venue once again. “If you wanna go wild, you can get involved, but it’s also laid out in a way that you can have a great view at the back, which I really appreciate”, Arial remarked to me. It’s also notably a perfect space for drinkers and non-drinkers alike, with Arial further noting that “it’s easy to get a glass of water and then rejoin the action”, a highly underrated factor in the venue’s structural integrity.

Naturally, as musicians themselves, the trio observed the gear before Squid took to the stage. Despite not catching the pedalboards, they remarked on the quality of the instruments: mostly Fender guitars, “particularly nice telecasters and jazz basses”, Wilf remarked, with the stage framed atypically around the drummer and an unexpected electric cello.

As their gear perusal ended, Squid took to the stage, kicking off what O’Hagan described as an “artsy, experimental, ambient breakdown”.

Recounting the experience, the trio were struck by the unique transitions between tracks, with Waxman appreciating the fact that there was “100% energy for the whole show”. Pearce was further struck by the incredibly “seamless way in which the band swapped instruments”, bolstered by the fact that each member is an “unbelievable musician,” no matter which instrument they chose to play. The unique nature of the show seemed to “fill in the gaps” of the band’s mystique for O’Hagan, creating a connection and understanding for their sets filled with live experimentation, improvisation and energy.

As the show developed, the pits seemed to grow in size; Wilf, Arial and Kye considered the fact that they had all accidentally assimilated themselves into the centre. Waxman deemed the crowd as “young, wild and filled with energy”, with Pearce referencing the crowd as “very male, but luckily not exactly a Death Grips concert.”

The highlight moments from the show seem to have been shared: “The Blades”, “G.S.K.”, and most notably an impromptu ten minute electric cello solo. The night was ecstatic, action packed, and went well beyond any expectations. The production was fantastic, the staging was unbelievable, and it was all topped off with a trip to McDonald’s afterwards. The trio considered their own song writing in their own respective bands, inspired by Squid’s “punchy chord movements, intelligent ways of creating tension and release, and general creativity.”

It’s fair to say all involved in the night were struck with a newfound appreciation for the band, the unique performance, and of course the friends we made along the way.

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