GIG REVIEW: Squid @ 9:30 Club, 2/8

By Julian Hester

About an hour before doors opened, my friend and I made our way to the iconic 9:30 Club, and found ourselves stunningly close to the doors. Having seen several shows at the venue, I’m accustomed to a healthy line long before showtime but before we knew it, we were inside. We quickly found a spot along the barrier, and questioned whether or not we belonged there while waiting for the opening act. Around 8, Water From Your Eyes took the stage, and the show officially began.

Their set started with some technical difficulty, as the band had to adjust the sound on one of their amps. They quickly carried on, moving through tracks like “Structure”, “Out There” and “Buy My Product”. Having never listened to their music, I was pleasantly surprised by their indie pop feel which sounded brash blasting out of the huge overhead speakers. Their set was enjoyable, but at times the vocals were lost amongst the other instruments. I’m not sure if this was intentional, or if there was something off with the mix. This issue came and went and the sound ultimately became clearer in the end. Their music was enjoyable but the lead singer’s stage presence left something to be desired. She appeared bored most of the time and while the music was good, I didn’t appreciate the “too cool to be here” attitude. It was something that my friend also noticed, which came as a relief, since I worried I was being too negative. 

Finally, around nine, the lights dimmed and Squid made their entrance. They tinkered with their equipment, filling the room with futuristic and intergalactic sounds. After a few minutes of this sound bath, they began “Swing (In A Dream)”, the opener of their latest album O Monolith. They effortlessly worked through their ever-evolving setlist, and incorporated staples from Bright Green Field and O Monolith. Planted firmly on the drums, Ollie Judge showcased his unique vocal style while effortlessly playing along with the rest of the band. He took several breaks to address the crowd, thanking everyone for coming out and for having them at such an iconic venue. He also gave a shoutout to Joint Custody, a DC staple record store only a few blocks away from 9:30. Mostly every song was properly introduced, while some they started shortly after the last one ended. This is common for most concerts, but I felt that there was an abruptness to some songs as a few finished without a natural winddown of the instruments. This was not pervasive throughout their set, as several songs received what I took as an extended ending. 

The crowd was energized throughout the show, and their energy was palpable during many of the upbeat songs. People were moshing for a solid portion of the set, even opening a pit at one point. My friend and I, safely attached to the barricade, decided early on not to venture into the belly of the beast. Regardless, the show was extremely entertaining, and the audience was captivated by the stamina the band demonstrated throughout their set. For set closer “The Blades,” Judge smashed away on his drums and screamed into the mic before abruptly walking away from his kit and offstage. It was a dramatic moment, and while consistent with the less rambunctious ending of the song, it did not feel like a satisfying close. Nevertheless, I had an excellent time at the show, even if I couldn’t hear very well for the next couple of days.
Squid is a truly unique band that is only getting bigger, and everyone that can should take the opportunity to see them on their O Monolith tour.

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