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Squid at Somerset House, 8th July 2022

Printed in Loud & Quiet, Issue 153

The Somerset House ‘Summer Series’ is back after a two year break. Originally home to Queen Elizabeth 1st in the 16th century, the site now sees a very different set of human activity. A stage is erected in the centre of the quadrangle, creating a festival-esk open air venue, overlooked by grand windows and stone columns. For eleven July evenings, the old palace becomes host to a range of British music.

Tonight it’s Squid; the Brighton-based five-piece band who, since the release of their debut EP Town Centre in 2019, have been moving from strength to strength.

It’s an unusual set up; lead singer and drummer Ollie Judge sits at centre stage, his band mates on each side. As though on a throne of metal, he is a charismatic presence, alternating impressive drum fills with neurotic vocals. Eyes closed, tongue escaping from his mouth in a twisted smile, I can’t help but wonder if he is the engineer of the chaotic, surreal nature of Squid’s sound.

Over the course of the set it becomes apparent that the band consists of multi-instrumentalists, switching roles as though in a game of rounders. Even lyrics are relayed between two or three players. And yet more musicians are brought on stage; a second trumpet player appears during Documentary Filmmaker, creating a gorgeous, silky brass polyphony. Martha Skye Murphy arrives for Narrator, which builds over eight minutes into a chaotic symphony of wild screams and operatic cries; part animal, part human.

Despite its royal lineage, the crowd are unafraid of letting go in this setting. I look up to see a cloud turn pink in the last of the evening light. Bopping heads morph into a wild mosh; bodies writhing together, as anarchic and animalistic as the music itself.


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