LIVE REVIEW: Squid the Whale

Squid the Whale Featured

Musty, dark, and dilapidated. These words adequately describe the hovel of a bar/venue that is Now That’s Class. A Cleveland, Ohio hardcore/punk scene by nature, this place housed a local show on the 18th of December headlined by a band full of promise. Allow me to introduce you.

Squid the Whale is an indie pop rock band that has been making waves in these past months. After taking the blogosphere by storm, the crew shipped in from Detroit, MI to rock the house, which was unfairly empty in proportion to level of showmanship the quartet was about to provide.

Introducing the band and each member’s purpose, we first visit Jonathan Wagoner, he plays the drums. You can spot Jon pounding away with passion and purpose in the back. Stage right, you’ll find Daniel Jay instilling his bass-lines deep within you with every pluck and strum. Brandon Kubiac is an extremely focused guitarist with skills to match. These three fill their space with energetic movement, but are aware of the area that will be taken by lead vocalist Bradley Walden.

Kicking off the set, the band launched into “The Greatest Way.” At this point, I stopped to look at those who remained in the crowd. The small talk previous musicians and show-goers had been making during the set up abruptly stopped, replaced with a transfixed look of shock directed toward to stage. I too returned my gaze to the raised performance deck and took in the immensity Squid the Whale delivered.

The most apparent quality to this group of gentleman was the incredible vocals Bradley Walden brings to the table. Only handfuls of artists can boast the power and control that this man possesses. The lyrics were equally as commanding as the voice that delivered them. The subject matter was deep and apparently so. I could feel the audience being drawn in both emotionally and physically. The crowd was now much closer than before. The movement and energy of the front man can be likened to those of Foxy Shazam’s own Eric Nally. Perpetual movement driven by desire and zeal is the most accurate way to describe the presence he commanded.

Powering through fan favorites “Gentleman” and the band’s popular cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” I took note of the remaining 3 musicians in the band. Jonathan Wagoner is an exceptional drummer with evident passion. Nearing the end of the set, Jon endured a broken cymbal and a pretty cut up hand. He powered through “Tennessee” and “Drown” with the injury and ended the set with a smile. He loves what he does and that shown through on every tune.

I found that each song instilled either a profound sense of power or purpose; it filled me up and got the blood flowing. I regretted wearing such a heavy jacket at this point. I suppose I could contribute this phenomenon to the Wagoner’s powerful percussion as well as the accompanying bass lines that ran deep through the whole performance. That’s Daniel Jay’s department. Dan moved without ceasing, fully immersing himself in each song and giving his all. The bass really drew everything together in the live renditions as they do in the studio versions found on the band’s “New War. EP

Never to be overlooked, the fourth member, Brandon Kubiac showed that he is a master at his craft, while not as lively as his band mates on stage, his skills on guitar were dynamic and without fault. There were some technical spots placed within the contagious melodies consistently spewing from the frets. These complimented the intense melodies in the vocals appropriately. Each piece of the quartet formed one cohesive machine that roared from the first note to the very last.

The energy Squid the Whale brought to this performance is, in a word, unforgettable. Incredible instrumentation, soaring vocals, and a stage presence comparable to seasoned veterans places this band squarely in 2012’s Must Watch List. The band is embarking on yet another tour, this time reaching even more cities. I highly encourage that all readers of this review make it out to at least one of these shows. Hardworking and determined, this band won’t be casting an anchor anytime soon.

Written by Jacob Tender (follow him on Twitter)

Jacob Tender

Jacob is a freelance writer who calls home. He is also the co-host of the Bantha Fodder podcast and helps UTG with technical and financial nonsense.
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  • Guest

    Best band you’ll ever see live. 

  • hedlund6

    i dig!!