Now I’ll flat out say it: I wasn’t around for the hype period of Aiden. I am 18. I remember being younger, though, and having older friends who were into Aiden. I remember being in my friend’s room, during the time when the band was on hiatus, and falling in love so fast with their 2006 Rain In Hell EP, especially the song “We Sleep Forever.” I kept hoping Aiden would return one day, but settled on seeing their former vocalist and frontman Wil Francis (a.k.a. William Control) do his solo act.
Aiden went on hiatus after their 2011 album Some Kind Of Hate, when the members decided the band was no longer sustainable. “Towards the end it was clear that punk rock wasn’t going to pay the bills,” stated William Control on his Facebook page nearly a year ago, “which is why both Angel [Ibarra] and Jake [Davison] left the band initially.” But some months ago, Wil announced that he was writing a new, final, and self-titled Aiden record in an open letter to his former bandmates. Word was then put out that Aiden would be playing a final tour, The Last Sunrise Tour, on which they would play their beloved 2005 record Nightmare Anatomy in full.
Finally, the day I wished for came. The show was a small basement show on November 7th at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey. I know most of my friends had seen Aiden before this tour and just wanted this one last time. For me, it was going to be the first and the last.
I was packed in a small room filled with people. There was a 70 person cap at the venue, and there were no less than 70 people there for Aiden. There was no barricade, no stage. I was offered nicely to stand up in the front by a girl who I wish now I could find again. When the stage was being set up for Aiden, I realized the mic stand had been placed at my feet. “If this is how I’m going to see Aiden one last, first time,” I thought, “then this is perfect.”
Finally, with no other way to enter, the members came in through the crowd, with Wil being the only original member. I looked to him and saw William Control become Wil Francis of Aiden one final time. He came in front of me, grabbed the mic and screamed, “This is Aiden!” All of a sudden, my face was in the chest of leather and smoke.
“What a beautiful way to see the last Aiden show. This is the reason I started a band, to play basement shows,” William screamed out to us. It made me feel like he didn’t want this to end ever; he wanted Aiden to still be a part of his life. Due to bitter ties and bad behavior, it had been ended. But that was in the past now. This tour was about making the fans happy. No matter when it was that you discovered Aiden, this show was about making all 70 people in the room feel special.
I had many friends who went to Aiden shows before the hiatus. They used to say that Wil didn’t treat them right and that he just never looked interested to meet fans. It left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths. I knew people who met him later as William Control and said he seemed different; more open. This was the Wil that appeared that night, and for a lot of people, it was personal and lovely.
At the beginning of the set, before they played Nightmare, Wil fell on top of me by mistake. He looked at me, pulled me in for a hug, and kissed my cheek. I couldn’t stop smiling at him that whole night. He took a break to drink and a girl jokingly asked him if she could have some, too. “Please, I’m dying,” she said. He came to her, laughing, and poured water down on her. He screamed, “We’re all dying, darling.” I never saw a woman more happy in her life.
When the last song of the set came (“World By Storm”), Wil thanked us all while the crowd poured him all their love, physically and emotionally. What I saw next was the most powerful thing. Wil pressed his hands against people’s heads and kissed their foreheads. When he walked off the stage, he hugged every single human being in that room. This included myself, upon which he told me, “Thank you for coming and loving me, darling.”
While it sucked–really, still does–to see a band like Aiden go away, I know this was the best way of seeing them. And as a fan, I wanted to leave a small open letter of my own to end this:
Thank you. For making that whole room feel something. For letting that whole room wish you goodbye in one good fashion. I hope this made you realize we do care. You treated us like we were your friends. You let us become really personal with you in that hour. I met some new friends and became closer with my old ones during that show. Thank you for letting Aiden touch my life once again and the lives of the 70 people in that small room. You were right. It was the most beautiful place to see Aiden for the last time.
by Liz Rainey