Monday, May 20, 2013

Flag vs. Flag, 2013



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!






18 comments:

  1. I'm going to see the Ginn BF next month. If Flag plays here I'd enjoy that too. I think it's pretty accurate to say that BF is Ginn plus some other guys.

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    1. For the record, I would go see both (preferably in close proximity) bands without a single thought.

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  2. I am going to see Black Flag this Friday in Dallas. I think I made my point that though I do not consider Flag anything more than a cover band, I would venture out to see them play as well. Armchair psychologists can no doubt work themselves dizzy trying to determine the motivations of all the members of Flag and Black Flag. I will not. I think that both groups are free to do what they want with the Black Flag name and catalog. It only seems sad to me that if punk ever meant anything about defying tradition and breaking new ground then both Black Flag and Flag should take a long look at themselves. IF only to ask the question, could be doing something else with their time that better embodies the ideals/beliefs to suffered so greatly to pursue.

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    1. Let us know how the BF shows goes!

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    2. Black Flag was great. As with all evenings out there were low points but once Black Flag took the stage those annoyances did not matter. The band played a little over an hour hitting mostly songs from the Damaged era or earlier. Sprinkled in with all the "hits" was 7 new songs as well as two songs, one each, from My War and Slip it In. Clearly much older than they used to be, Ginn, Reyes, and the new guys still played with energy and passion. Were Black Flag to come through Dallas again, I would surely go see them again. There is a video on Youtube of the show but it is a bit rough. For some reason the venue would not let cameras in and if fond to be using your phone to take pictures or video the bouncers attempted to interfere. My buddy hid a video camera and recorded the show.

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  3. I saw the Black Flag show on Thursday it was excellent, the only probleme was it wasnt loud enough. I am very happy that both bands are active.

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  4. I get to see both this year. I think FLAG will be better.

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    1. I will see neither, sadly, but I am 99% your prediction is correct.

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  5. Having a small insight on the issue, as stated in books and interviews and correct me if i'm wrong, Greg never really paid royalties to his bandmates. Sure Flag might be doing it for "fun" but they have to make a living too...do you think anyone in either of the bands have a 401K plan, insurance. I would argue that most live paycheck to paycheck (show to show). being in a working band isn't all that glamorous, it's like teaching, hard work and you have to love what you do. I know firsthand the FLAG guys love what they are doing.

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    1. Yeah I think if these guys can make a living playing music the audience wants to hear, maybe it's time for us to just let them do it and enjoy ourselves!

      P.S Thanks for the cool photos.

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  6. I've not come across the '82 show before, cheers for posting it Jeffen.

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    1. Glad you dig it, we always try to find different ways to ruin of readers lives (or at least their plans for the day!)

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  7. Good on both bands- I will be seeing FLAG, and not the Ginn Flag- but that's largely because of circumstance. I am not a fan of Ginn's guitar wonkery anyway.
    And I dig hearing the old stuff-

    PS- Jeff- are you going to AmnesiaFest? Flag is playing there, and we are trekking up from NYC to attend the Fest!

    nazz nomad

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    1. Would love to re-visit the 80's/90's at AmnesiaFest but Quebec is a looooong way from my Manitoba home.

      That said, you gotta give us your review of the highlights when you return.

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  8. steve in torontoMay 25, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    flag needed a clown to temper the peril in the music. it was keith. then it was dez. loved them both live. missed them very much in the sado-masochistic my war years. flag were casually dangerous in the golden era... with (just) rollins they were just trying. it was all effort. shiny sweaty huffing and puffingness. nothing wrong with trying. sure ginn owns his thing, but it's like bad vibes as an alternative energy source, with all the stuff we heard about screwing bands. still... a god circa louie louie, sweet holy hell. that's incredible.

    steve in toronto

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    1. "flag needed a clown" that's true for a lot of bands - they need a counterpoint.

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  9. the only one i'd bother with is black fag (are they still together?)

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