If hardcore punk was a disembodied spirit that floated from town to town possessing the hyper active, angry kids in the scene, it would be Black Flag. A band with a rotating cast of characters and one unflinching staple: band founder and SST Records owner, Greg Ginn. For years there were two groups in the Black Flag camp: those who said Henry Rollins personified what the band was trying to achieve, and then there were those who said, “No Greg Ginn, no Black Flag.” However, with the 2013 release of, “What the…” and the on-stage firing of vocalist Ron Reyes, it seems that Black Flag really is more ethos than person.
Thank god for FLAG; a band of mostly Black Flag alumni who have stayed true to the roots of the things that got them interested in making angry music. Each member has been active with other projects since they’ve taken their leave from Black Flag. Keith Morris is currently the singer of OFF! and formerly of the seminal punk band Circle Jerks. Chuck Dukowski makes bass heavy jazz, but originally penned, My War, one of Black Flag’s more aggressive songs about alienation. Both, Stephen Egerton and Bill Stevenson are members of the Descendants with Egerton doing double duty in ALL. Dez Cadena has been touring and recording with Jerry Only’s version of the Misfits over the last several years.
Are they a tribute band? Sure. Does it really matter? No. Hearing anthems that have been etched and seared into the collective conscious of a million members of the disaffected youth played by the guys who did their best to bring the songs to life IS Black Flag. What Black Flag was, is now something different; thanks to lawsuits and in fighting. Like Xerox and White Out before it, the brand is synonymous with the sound it helped to define more than the members or even what name they use. These guys have been around the block more than a few times; but their energy is as raw as ever and their sound is all west coast hardcore circa 1982. (The “you should have been there” period) Greg Ginn sued FLAG in 2013 for copyright infringement and oddly enough Henry Rollins, who has nothing to do with this project, was included in the complaint. It was a mess, but FLAG prevailed and haven’t let the negativity sway them from playing the music they love and bringing the people exactly what they want.
FLAG plays Culture Room, July 9 w. War on Women and Dirty Nil. Doors at 7pm and tickets are $20 in advance.
Photo by Kevin Scanlon