Frantic energy intertwines with melodramatic solace as The Orielles are joined by Squid in Heaven.
Droning and shrieking its way out of a sound check straight into wah-heavy, shrieking behemoths of songs, the music of Squid
is insane. The band is abrasively rhapsodic: screaming and yelping and sing-talking their way through tracks, the delivery and aggression grabs and yanks and pushes and pulls and scratches at the audience. The music that accompanies the vocals burrows deep into the ears, shaking the bodies of every audience member, thundering through the cavernous main hall of Heaven. The five band members, most of whom flow between instruments - changing from bass to guitar to percussion to trumpet at will - power their way through the set.
The energy is consistent and wonderfully, raucous. The powerhouse drummer, Ollie, sings for most of the set, with two other band members taking over vocal duties at various points, each delivering a different style and presentation. Ollie’s vocals yelp and shriek their way out from behind the drum kit, while Anton and Louise go for a more subdued approach, almost reciting their lyrics like lines of poetry. It is a mash of styles that brings to mind Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, David Bowie, Mark E. Smith, and Lias Saoudi – a list as diverse as it is nonsensical, but imagine a wave of shoe-gaze, psychedelic punk behind any of them and you’re on your way to imagining what Squid sounds like - at least some of the time. Playing in what Ollie terms as “probably the biggest room [they’ve] ever played in,” the band prove themselves up to the task and present as a brilliant force to be reckoned with.
Finding themselves on the distinctly lighter side of the upbeat, energy-filled stage are headliners The Orielles
. Where Squid mine the depths of reverb, wah and drone in a jazz-punk shoegaze mire, The Orielles delve conversely into bright, dreamy bass-driven rock music. Onstage the audience is presented with two crazily energetic band members, Alex and Henry, who spend the majority of the performance leaping side to side – Alex behind the keyboards and Henry with his guitar accentuating each jump – and sisters Esmé Dee and Sidonie B. Sidonie B, somewhat trapped behind the drums as she is, refrains largely from leaping, and Esmé Dee content to dance around the stage when she isn’t at the mic driving the songs with her wandering bass riffs and vocals. The two sisters counterbalance the frantic energy of the other two, and provide a solace for the audience’s attention, an anchor holding the performance together so that it never flies too far from the rails.
The Orielles’ strength as a live band comes as a surprise, instead of excelling at energetic passion and intensity as one would think, the band really come into their own when they play up the pauses in their songs. Regardless of the length of the pause in the song, they slot in perfectly and stretch out the audience’s ears, heads expectantly raised for the drop that they know is coming, bringing an incredible dimension of give and take to the performance. They would take away the music and give it back just before it had been gone too long. The set is a fairly short one, but purposely so, so as to allow for the fervour and build-up for an encore set, which manages to reach even more passionate heights, cementing their reputation as one of the best new bands around.
Check out the Q+A we did with Squid earlier this year.
Photography: Neelam Khan Vela