Gig Review: Squid at Black Cat, 3/21/22


On Monday, March 21, British band Squid played at Black Cat. My guest and I stood at the feet of guitarist Anton Pearson, all the way to the right of the stage to avoid any moshing that could leave a five-foot-three woman like myself terribly bruised. Harsh red lighting filled the room, casting shadows over everyone’s faces. Nearby, a high-school aged teen screamed along to every lyric alongside his fifty year old father, who just looked happy to see his son having fun. Employees of Black Cat watched from their respective positions, bobbing their heads and continuing their duty of making the strongest drinks possible. The crowd was a diverse age range, with many of the usual thirty-plus Black Cat group, who manage to look cooler than you ever will. There was a group in their early twenties that stuck to the first row. People of all ages lingered at the side on barstools, but everyone’s eyes were glued to the stage. That being said, there were only about two-hundred people or less present—all of whom seemed to be huge fans of the band.

The five-piece band felt incredibly human as they were not far separated from the small crowd. The stage was just raised enough to see them from the waist up, making it feel like a small DIY show. Configured in an M shape, lead vocalist Ollie Judge was front and center at the drums. The Brits engaged in some banter throughout the show. Cementing their Britishness, when a fan screamed “I love you Ed Sheeran” to Judge, who does share a striking resemblance, he chuckled before singing a line of the highly memed “Shape of You” and calling the ginger a “Good bloke.” This was one of the two brief breaks in music the band would take to talk with the crowd (the other being the classic “this is our first time in DC” bit) as songs tended to transition into each other.

The show was concise, with only twelve tracks mostly from their newest album Bright Green Field. This is not to say it felt rushed in any way. Time flew by, not because the show was short but because it never felt like more of the same. Sticking to stick to the album and choice singles created a cohesive energy. Songs blended together with modulating synths broken up by strong baselines or trumpet blares. Multiple members of the band switched instruments, never diminishing the collective sound. Judge’s voice was rough, his singing more closely resembled shouting. Inconsistency remains Squid’s greatest virtue. They kept the fans on edge, preventing any possible moshing- every time a circle seemed to emerge, the music would change drastically to a simple droning beat or loud feedback that vibrated every glass in the room. At times they chose to add a few more beats to a song than was originally featured on the record just to throw off the people singing along creating more of a playful feeling than a showy one. There was a rare sense of total presence and awareness for us in the crowd. You had to focus on every change in sound not to get lost.  

My spot directly next to the speaker left me with a throbbing headache, but I couldn’t help but leave with a smile on my face. As Squid continues on their tour, I am sure their fanbase will grow. The concert was ridiculously fun, and remained true to them as a group. This was one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve been to in years. To buy tickets for the rest of the tour, click here.

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