Last night (February 9), Squid debuted tracks from their upcoming second album ‘O Monolith’ during a one-off headline show at London’s SCALA. See photos, footage and the setlist below.
- READ MORE: Squid on the cover: “I don’t think people take us seriously enough to think we’re ‘pretentious’”
As announced this week, the band’s second album will arrive on June 9 via WARP. They launched the follow-up to 2021’s acclaimed ‘Bright Green Field’ with lead single ‘Swing (In A Dream)’.
Squid were initially set to headline SCALA in April 2020, following the release of their 2019 EP ‘Town Centre’ – tracks from which were notably absent last night. Slated to be their first London headline show, the gig was rescheduled through the lockdowns and temporarily scrapped, giving way to an updated touring schedule around ‘Bright Green Field’, before announcing their eventual arrival at the King’s Cross venue.
Almost three years later, the band finally appeared at SCALA to give fans a first look at ‘O Monolith’ – debuting a more complex, deliberately avant-garde incarnation of Squid.
Aside from lead vocalist and drummer Ollie Judge, each band member moved between several instruments during the meticulously-choreographed set. The tracks were additionally fortified by touring percussionist Zands Duggan, cycling through an array of congas, shakers and triangles.
The set opened with ‘Undergrowth’ – a melodic cut from ‘O Monolith’, driving towards a melancholic final act in which guitarist Louis Borlase moved to synths, and keyboardist Arthur Leadbetter switched to cello. Next came ‘O Monolith’s noir-ish closer ‘If You Had Seen the Bull’s Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away’. This saw Laurie Nankivell’s bass slink through a storm of percussion, with Borlase using a guiro, Leadbetter taking up a cowbell, and the Duggan taking to a small, chest-mounted washboard.
Having met these new tracks with rapt attention, the crowd erupted in welcoming ‘Bright Green Field’ highlight ‘G.S.K.’. Following this with new track ‘Devil’s Den’, Squid seemed to point to ‘O Monolith’s grander musical scope. Led by an eery half-croon from Judge, and sustained synths recalling the strings from ‘Tehellim Pt. I’ by Steve Reich (the band’s stated enthusiasm for Reich is more evident in these new songs), this track’s sudden structural shifts palpably caught the room off-guard – earning the biggest applause so far.
The stage then went quiet for a trumpet solo by Nankivell, looped into the opening sequence of new track – and clear set-highlight among fans – ‘After The Flash’. Driving towards a gorgeous ascending synth line, reminiscent of Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’, this seemed to be a band’s favourite as well – its members bouncing through its triumphant crescendo.
Returning to play synthesisers, Nankivell, Borlase and guitarist Anton Pearson delivered a sprawling electronic piece, marked in the setlist as ‘Fieldworks’. “That one’s from the third album” Judge said. “Fuck knows when that’s going to come out.”
With Judge’s announcement “this one’s called ‘Houseplants’,” the band broke into ‘Bright Green Field’ track ‘Narrator’ – the only previous single in the set, and closest the audience got to those pre-album tracks. The set closed with ‘O Monolith’s newly-released lead single ‘Swing (In A Dream)’.
The ever-terrific Squid playing new stuff at The Scala this evening. @squidbanduk #squidband pic.twitter.com/pT1GliTYP8
— Toby Cotton (@TobiasCotton) February 9, 2023
Squid, at the Scala
A promised gig. A band with exciting ideas set out in an album yet to be released. And a "hit" single the audience will shout for and be ignored.
A pandemic and 3 years later, and we're in much the same position.
I was late, but what I saw was very enjoyable. pic.twitter.com/oKuNlRYksi
— El Turko (@steventurko) February 10, 2023
Squid tonight at Scala, what a gig, so much energy and so ridiculously talented, completely brilliant#squid #omonolith #moshpit #scala #livemusic pic.twitter.com/TTrYvjSxaA
— VeryNearlyHalfWitted (@BoysKeepSwingin) February 9, 2023
‘If You Had Seen the Bull’s Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away’
‘After The Flash’
‘Swing (In A Dream)’
Squid will also embark on a new tour in October, following a summer of festival dates. Tickets will go on sale from 10am on February 16 and will be available here.
Squid will play:
13 – Bristol, SWX
14 – Bristol, SWX
16 – Birmingham, Town Hall
17 – Leeds, O2 Academy
18 – Manchester, New Century
21 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
22 – Newcastle, Boiler Shop
1 – London, Troxy
In a five-star review of ‘Bright Green Field’, NME said: “From their very earliest material, it was clear to tell that Squid would only be able to truly fulfil their potential when given the canvas of an album, on which to tell a story that ebbs and flows at a pace and route that they dictate. ‘On Bright Green Field’, in all of its weird, frantic and fantastic glory, they’ve gone above and beyond.”