Black Flag are like a worm, chop them in half and instead of dying they just split into two separate, subterranean organisms. And that's what happened in 2013, we got two bands playing the crushing music of Black Flag. One iteration, using the name Black Flag, features Ron Reyes and Gregg Ginn plus two hired guns, while the other, who go under the name FLAG (more HERE), feature Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson and Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton.
These L.A. Eighties hardcore progenitors saw seventeen members pass through their ranks in eight years, so that's a lot of people with Black Flag on their resume. In fact, I'd argue that, academically anyway, you could chop that worm up into three and make another version of the band, let's call them BF, with Rollins on vocals, Kira on bass, Robo on drums and, since FLAG bent the rules to fill in for Ginn, Mike Neider from BL'AST on guitar.
Idle speculation aside, it's fair to say that if Greg Ginn decides to call a band 'Black Flag' then they are, damnit. That's why it's so fitting that FLAG play up the "We're doing this for fun" angle, while Ginn & co. take the "(We're not) some sort of greatest-hits act" tack and Mr. Rollins goes the "Music had moved on" route.
Of course, that all this Flag-waving has not gone without raising some ire. Some argue that old men wrapping themselves up in the Flag is undignified or unseemly or unworthy. However, I'd argue that neither is a false Flag and both attest to the long-lasting inspiration created by a group of disaffected men and women set on making their own musical nation.
So, if you missed Black Flag the first time around (I had other plans that kept me from Desh Bhagat Hall in 1985) there's little reason not to take this opportunity by the throat, I know I will, given half a chance.
So which, if any, version of Black Flag would you see in 2013?
Let us know in the COMMENTS section!