When you rip away the white noise of controversy over the competing Black Flag reunions what you’re left with is the music and in this case Flag, featuring Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, Stephen Egerton and Chuck Dukowski deliver a mighty roar that, with or without a name, is farking awesome. Punk rock’s midlife crisis is an amazing thing to behold.
Here’s 15 minutes of Flag performing at New York City’s Irving Plaza a couple of months ago.
Here’s another groovy communique from our good buddy Tim Stegall.
With guitarist Greg Ginn’s much vaunted resurrection of Southern California hardcore punk legends Black Flag (featuring Jealous Again-era vocalist Ron Reyes) not set to debut until a May 14th date in Luxembourg, Ginn’s been beaten to the punch. Flag, the band of ex-Black Flag members re-banded to give the people their take on the classics, debuted April 18th at an invite-only show at Redondo Beach Moose Lodge No. 1873.
Over 34 years ago, the same rented hall hosted the debut of Black Flag. Much as then, FLAG (comprising original vocalist [and Circle Jerks/OFF! leader] Keith Morris, bassist/songwriter/conceptual mastermind Chuck Dukowski, drummer [and Descendents/ALL mastermind] Bill Stevenson, guitarist [and 3rd Black Flag vocalist] Dez Cadena, and Descendents/ALL guitarist Stephen Egerton deputized in Ginn’s stead) eschewed a stage and played on the floor through a rented PA, right in the faces of the less-than-200 guests.
As you can see in the video below of the entire gig, the band played with the same ferocious precision, commitment, and articulate rage as Black Flag in their prime. Hard to call this a revival or a cover band, when you receive music this fierce and real, played with clear love. Amazingly, Morris even ably handles later Henry Rollins-era material that he never sang, like “My War” and “Rise Above,” with the grace and ease of one who owns the song (if you can call screaming and completely exploding “grace and ease,” that is).
What you get, basically, is Black Flag’s Damaged lineup, with Ginn replaced and Morris standing-in for Rollins. Then Dez unstraps his Les Paul somewhere in the mid-point and assumes the mic, unleashing a slew of 3rd lineup hits.
The proof’s on the tape: Flag is clearly as much Black Flag as what Ginn and Reyes will be unleashing shortly. And they still kill ants on contact….