Squid | Blue Bendy | Sunglasz Vendor

SWX, Bristol

Saturday 14th October 2023

Photography by George Ward

George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Squid perfect their live show, bringing together their two albums into a powerful, winding beast of a setlist

Squid have long had a reputation as one of the best live acts from the experimental rock scene and I, amongst many others, never miss the chance to see them live. Following the release of their phenomenal second album ‘O Monolith’, they kicked off their UK tour with an ambitious 2 nights at Bristol’s SWX. 

Bristol’s Sunglasz Vendor kicked things off, with their modest 3-piece band more than making enough noise to fill the huge venue. With wonderfully loose guitar solos, tight basslines and a controlled mix of sounds, they slotted perfectly into the lineup, keeping the crowd intrigued. 

Up next were Blue Bendy, a band who you will hopefully be hearing more and more about in the next few months. Their experimental rock/folk is similar to that of Black Country, New Road on ‘Ants From Up There’ but with more than enough character to stand out themselves. Highlights included their new single ‘Mr Bubblegum’, whose wonky parts form into a surprisingly catchy whole and ‘Cloudy’, a multi-phased epic of a track and one of the most underrated singles of the year. 

Squid are absolute masters of building and controlling tension. From the first notes of ‘Swing (In A Dream)’, you could already feel the crowd’s excitement brewing, with people slowly making their way through the packed crowd to get closer to the noise. 

As they effortlessly weaved through their two albums, the transitions were seamless, with no nonsense whatsoever. Even the interludes between tracks were just as exciting as the released tracks themselves. While I always did enjoy the droney ambient interludes of past Squid shows, these electronic ones kept the pace up far more effectively, and seeing each member mess around with drum machines and synths while Ollie kept a techno beat pounding on his drums was seriously impressive. 

It was such a joy seeing the ‘O Monolith’ tracks live and, on stage, they completely came to life. Smaller moments such as ‘Devil’s Den’s demented synth lines became memorable highlights and seeing the live debut of ‘Siphon Song’ felt very special. ‘The Blades’ proved to be just as powerful a closer as any older Squid track, especially impressive as it followed fan favourite ‘Narrator’.

Squid are the best they have ever been. To witness a band’s live sets improve every time you watch them is such an exciting experience and, if the last time you caught them was a few years ago, be sure to see just how much they’ve developed. 

Listen to ‘O Monolith’ here:

Let us know what you think!