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Siege | Live Review, Audio, Glasgow 17/09/17

The legendary Siege playing Glasgow? Be rude not to head to that.

An unquestionably influential hardcore band from Weymouth, Massachusetts, Siege were a product of, and also apart from, the Boston hardcore scene.

Influenced by the likes of Minor Threat and Bad Brains, Bostonians like SS Decontrol, Negative FX and DYS took the short, sharp anger of the music and moulded it into something much more nihilistic, more self righteous (owing to the straight edge culture that Boston embodied).

Siege took influences from these bands, as well as the powerful and violent music of Negative Approach and Deep Wound, and what they gave birth to was a version of hardcore that upped the ante in terms of speed and aggression, but also had a metallic tinge to it that could be appreciated by the burgeoning death metal scene.

Their demo, ‘Drop Dead’, has been acclaimed as a landmark release for power violence, a stepping stone for grindcore and the fastest record ever (according to Lars Ulrich in 1987).

Various reunions and splits have led to this incarnation of the band (with only drummer Rob Williams and guitarist Kurt Habelt remaining from the original line up). Billed as their final European tour (even though they’ve never actually properly toured Europe before), I had to make the effort.

4 x Wheelchair

Opening the show are local two piece Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair.

Despite their appalling name, they are a fearsome proposition live.

They being with a slow, almost post rock, riff and gentle drumming which, although doesn’t build to anything, does produce a docile gentility which contrasts nicely with the brutality they display throughout the set.

On record, the band have a bad tendency to fuck about and coat the music in muddy echo and samples, nullifying the power they display live.

Drummer Bobby King is an utter beast, blasting and beating the skins with brute force, while guitarist Stuart Finnie’s tone and growl compliments this. If they can capture this on a recording without being silly, that would be some record.

Endless Swarm

Despite cancelling their Irish tour due to personal circumstances, Edinburgh’s Endless Swarm are in savage form on Audio’s stage. Like Wheelchair x4 before them, there’s no fucking around live.

Just simple, brutal outbursts of powerviolence. But there’s enough groove in the slower segments to reinforce their power.

There’s always a danger when having two or more bands of this genre on the same bill can be wearing on the audience, especially if the bands are more identikit than individual.

But Endless Swarm don’t have that problem, thanks to well written songs with structure and are delivered by a tightly rehearsed band (Alex Sharp is a revelation on bass, such a gnarly tone) and a front man (Graham Caldwell) whose anger during the set can be unsettling at times.


Siege take to the stage and proceed to blast their way through a fourteen song set.

The energy and nastiness on show belies the ages of the band members (Williams is proof that age shouldn’t temper drumming speed). New members Mark Fields and Chris Leamy pile on more intensity just in case you thought there wasn’t enough in the first place.

It’s a strange, yet life affirming, feeling seeing a band you never thought you’d get the chance to see play songs that are almost akin to the Dead Sea Scrolls for pv/grindcore. Hearing ‘Conform’ (with THAT bass intro), ‘Conform’, ‘Drop Dead’…astonishing stuff.

Placing it within the context of having two younger bands play before them, Siege do not sound remotely dated (although they’re clearly not as fast as the preceding two acts) and nor do they sound phoned in. This is still vibrant music inspiring so many people.

Closing the set with ‘Grim Reaper’, this detour into Lydia Lunch No Waveesque noise is played in Audio with a set of bagpipes instead of a saxophone.

The drone from the bagpipes overpowers the PA at several points, and sounds utterly mind blowing. The band dig in on the groove, hammering away until the final note, where they all look drained.

An encore of ‘It’s No TV Sketch’ by Discharge is maybe a wrong step, as it’s a faithful rendition and seems out of kilter with the rest of the set due to it’s (compared to Siege) mid tempo. But it’s a reminder that this music did not come out of a vacuum, so props to the band for the tribute.

Triumphant result all around.

Christopher Owens ::: 21/09/17
Pics Stuart Finnie

  1. Saw Endless Swarm in Birmingham. Brilliant group

  2. Why can no one ever talk about a hardcore band without naming at least half a dozen other hardcore bands?

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