This is a night of firsts. The first time Brighton five-piece Squid have performed live in 18 months, and the first time their audience have experienced socially distanced gigs – we sit politely in discrete rows of chairs, and there are giggles as we find out that you order your drinks by text message. It’s also the first time anyone has taken to the stage in this newly converted former bank in Falmouth’s bohemian quarter.
What’s more, it’s the first time anyone has heard the work-in-progress songs that form the backbone of Squid’s set (they are not here to promote their recent, well received debut album) on this opening night of their Fieldworks tour of unorthodox venues.
The corner stage is tiny, foxing the band as they gamely try to swap instruments between songs. The four standing musicians surround delighted drummer Ollie Judge – “A gig! A gig!” he says with a grin – and play pastoral tune fragments on muted trumpet, wah-wah cello and melodica. Ollie distractedly pops a tongue out of the corner of his mouth, preparing for the rush to come.
The politely arranged audience at Squid’s Cornish Bank gig in Falmouth. Photograph: Brian Robinson
And come it does. The new songs are mostly choppy instrumentals made of jarringly different fragments. The band’s spindly roar lurches like a krautrock kite caught in a prog-rock squall. Tangled nests of guitar notes abruptly break into loose interludes, pitting harmonised trumpet or dark feedback drones against white noise.
It ends, as it should, with their bracing new single, Pamphlets, a paranoid anthem that speaks to the year just gone. Amid the waves of howling post-rock noise flying around the room, band members batter cowbells, one of which has a Covid mask on, and Ollie screams his antisocial refrain: “That’s why! I don’t go! Outside!”
Well, there’s a first time for everything.
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