LET IT DIE – THE FINAL SHOW!
GAY PANIC DEFENCE
Stuck On A Name Studios, Nottingham – Sept 29th 2018
Beloved English crust hardcore/grindcore band LET IT DIE present an emotional send off, putting a close on nine years of intense music. Atom Smasher Music make the road trip to Stuck On A Name Studios in Nottingham, a place that vocalist Red Sismey describes as the band’s spiritual home, announcing “this is a celebration, not a funeral.”
Arriving at Stuck On A Name studios leads us up a stairwell to a tiny DIY space, located in a building just a short walk away from Nottingham city centre. Already the venue is packed with friendly faces in a show that sold out very quickly after being announced. Opening the proceedings are Scotland based GAY PANIC DEFENCE, featuring Let It Die’s own Red Sismey on guitar, sporting a delightful pink dress. The power trio burst through very short, fast, choppy, punky tracks with very little breathing room between any of them. Whilst there are certainly tinges of powerviolence cropping up, with some abrupt tempo and rhythm changes, the overall vibe is more similar to classic DC hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Void. Next up are brutal grind/powerviolence duo FILTHxCOLLINS. Just the fantastic name alone is enough to make you a lifelong fan, but they certainly have the tunes to back up. Featuring Kez Whelan on guitar and screams, and Dan Malik on drums and grunts, the duo keep things very simple and stripped back, yet have a massive sound. Over roughly 20 minutes, the two storm through stupidly short tracks with dual vocals that bounce between each other. It is impossible to tell just how many songs are belted out, with a semi-improvised approach to the setlist. The duo deliver the punches with a primal, caveman-like attack, favouring noisy, chugging riffs that lead into blurry fast grind sections that may last merely a second or two before switching into something else. Chaos reigns!
London based quintet ITHACA are a change of pace, offering more of a metallic hardcore sound. Once again, Red Sismey crops up, this time performing bass guitar. Their songs sound large and controlled, but still bring much of the intensity and ferocity of the other bands on the bill tonight. The quintet use the tiny space to their advantage, holding the room in the palms of their hand, inviting crowdgoers to let loose and go crazy. Their sound is reminiscent of ‘Petitioning’-era Converge, with some of the more fearsome and noisy riffs of Glassjaw cropping in too. Leicester based NOTHING CLEAN step up to the plate with a truly unforgiving and colossal performance. No nonsense, no bullshit, just a terrifying and furious barrage of noisy, violent grindcore. In particular, their lead vocalist tears it up with such a raw and commanding scream. The blasting drums and blurry guitars are played so menacingly fast that it almost becomes incoherent, in the best way possible.
You’d think performing with three bands in one night would be emotionally and psychologically taxing enough, but for Red Sismey, the final performance of LET IT DIE is the most cathartic and draining experience. “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, but I did wake up crying this morning,” Sismey confesses to a crowd full of friends and supporters. As the band kick into gear for the last time, the response of the crowd is like lightning in a bottle. The whole room is transformed into a giant mosh pit with people slamming into each other, bodies flying, people climbing on the speakers and crowd surfing. This room is on fire! Let It Die take us on an apt history of the band, with Sismey talking to the crowd between each song, briefly telling stories and inspirations behind the songs. Strong highlights include the very first song they wrote as a band, ‘No Escape’, and an homage to suicidal thoughts, self harm and depression with the particularly stirring ‘Pathetic’. Special guests are invited to join in, with Ithaca’s vocalist and Employed To Serve’s Sammy Urwin performing a guest guitar solo on ‘Dysphoria’. The crowd really get behind the band, brightening up an emotional send off with human pyramids and a rare display of pit canoeing! As Let It Die reach a sad climax, Red Sismey is left in a heap, collapsed on the floor in tears.
Tonight is one of those very rare and special shows that feels like more than just a gig. This indeed is a celebration, not a funeral, as Sismey so eloquently puts it. Everyone in the room is here to offer their support, to celebrate the true power and meaning of underground DIY music, to cement the reason why we do this at all. Let It Die clearly touch the hearts of many people, and to witness this amount of positivity in one little room is awe inspiring. Tonight is truly one of the best and most unique live music experiences we have ever witnessed. Years from now, whenever people say “I just discovered this amazing band Let It Die, too bad they’ve split up”, the lucky few of us who attended tonight will be able to smile and say “I WAS THERE!”
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Photography: Richard Culm / Shoot First