Friday with Black Flag!

trees

This past Friday, my wife and I took a drive down to Dallas to see the mighty Black Flag.

When we got into town we were both pretty hungry and decided on trying to find a steakhouse. While searching through our cell phone’s Urbanspoon app, we decided on a local steakhouse on Dunston’s Prime Steakhouse. Looking back, I wish we would have looked further. When we walking in the place, I remember thinking that we were probably not the right clientele for a steakhouse such as this. It looked pretty fancy and I walked in with my Off With Their Heads tee shirt, a pair of cargo shorts, my Chicago White Sox ball cap, and my green Chucks. Not really the type of people they are probably used to serving. However, the decor of the establishment did not match the quality of their food.
We both ordered steaks, both ordered a side of mashed potatoes and a side of spinach. First of all, being in Texas, I figured the steaks would be much better than they were. Sadly, the steaks, as mundane and without flavor as they were (to give mine flavor, I actually put a bunch of salt on top of mine), they were the best thing on the entree plate. The mashed potatoes were obviously instant, and there were lumps in it. And the gravy they poured over the potatoes were something else. I don’t know what the hell it was. But the worst, absolute worst part of the dinner was the spinach. You would think that by going to a “premium” steakhouse, you would get fresh spinach. Nope! It was from a can. And it was gross!

Bottom line, I will never return to Dunston’s Steakhouse and I urge you to stay far away from this place.

After leaving, we ventured on to Deep Ellum and parked. After walking around and in a couple of local shops in the neighborhood, we ended up at a bar called Wit’s End to sit around and drink until it was time to enter the venue. Great bar. The owner/barkeep (“Ace”) was really cool and everything he recommended to us during our stay there was great. My favorite drink of the evening was a hard cider that he recommended to me, Magner’s Pear Cider.

So anyway, the time for the doors to open at Trees came and we headed over there. Much to my dismay, after picking up our tickets at the will call window, we discovered that there was a no re-enty rule. Bummer.

The night began with a local band, the Mind Spiders taking the stage. Nothing really remarkable about them to speak of.

Next was Black Flag founder/guitarist Greg Ginn’s side project (sort of), Good For You. This was a project that Ginn put together with skateboard pro Mike Vallely on vocals. On bass was former OKC band They Stay Dead’s Dave Klein and former Gone (Greg Ginn’s side project from the late 80s) drummer, Gregory Moore. These later two by the way, also provide the rhythm section for the newly reformed Black Flag. Anyway, I liked their set. I have always been a big fan of Greg Ginn’s solo/side projects. Then again, I’ve always been a huge fan of Greg Ginn in general. The music of Good For You reminded me of a cross between Ginn’s Gone material and early Rollins Band. Good For You recently released their debut album, Life Is Too Short to Not Hold a Grudge, on Ginn’s SST Records. Strangely, it is only available through either digital means or on vinyl. The highlights of their set were the songs “Stupid Me” and “Blaze of Glory,” in addition to some of the impromptu jam stuff they started playing.

Finally came the event we drove 3 hours to see. Black Flag.

blackflag

Technically, all this required was a change of singers. The newly reformed Black Flag includes the pre-Rollins-era singer Ron Reyes. Personally, the Ron Reyes lineup was my favorite Black Flag lineup. I have to tell you, I was really excited about getting to see this band. I never got to see them when they were together originally and the chance to see this band was something that I could not miss. You see, Black Flag and the guitar stylings of Greg Ginn were essentially the reason that I started playing music and started a band. In fact, a lot of the music that was played by ABF (my first band) sounded a lot like early Black Flag. And I also have to admit that one of the songs that I wrote for that band was basically the chords to “Nervous Breakdown” played backwards.

Anyway, so Black Flag took the stage and the crowd erupted into chaos. So much in fact that because Mandy and I were at the very front of the stage, we started getting crushed against the barrier between the crowd and the stage. It got so bad a couple of songs into the set that Mandy ended up leaving the show altogether because she started having a panic attack and I ended up going to back of the room instead of continuing to be crushed up against the stage like a sardine.

This did not detract from the show itself one bit though.

So anyway, their set began with 1980’s “Revenge”, which was originally released on the EP Jealous Again. The next couple of songs were “I’ve Had It” originally from 1978’s Nervous Breakdown EP and the title song from that same EP. The band played songs from their entire catalog in fact, even including some songs from the Rollins-era version of the band. Additionally, they played the 2 new songs that the new lineup recorded, “The Chase” and “Down in the Dirt.”

All in all, I would have to say that this was definitely worth the trip down there.

In other Black Flag related news, they do plan to release a new album this summer which will obviously include the 2 new tracks and I am really looking forward to hearing this album when it comes out.

That is all I have to say about the show itself. However, I would like to comment on the “other” Black Flag reunion band that has surfaced. Calling itself, Flag, this line consists of Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, Dez Cadenda, and Stephen Egerton. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for these musicians, to me, they just are not Black Flag. Any band without Greg Ginn, cannot, and should not, call itself Black Flag. Granted, they are just going by the moniker Flag, they are advertising themselves as a Black Flag reunion band. In fact, their Facebook description lists them as “original members” (excluding Stephen Egerton in this list) of Black Flag. This is somewhat deceptive in my opinion. It is true that Keith Morris was an original member of Black Flag in that he was the band’s first vocalist when Greg Ginn put the band together in 1976. However, Chuck Dukowski did not come along until 1977 and was not their original bass player. Bill Stevenson, while a great drummer and great all around musician and this is no slight on him, he did not join the band until around 1982. Dez Cadena as well, did not join the band until after Ron Reyes left the band in 1981. So…original members? Excluding Keith Morris…hardly. To me, Flag is basically just a cover band playing nothing but Black Flag songs.

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5 thoughts on “Friday with Black Flag!

  1. It’s interesting how some bands can be completely defined by one member while others are defined by a specific lineup. In the case of Black Flag, the heart and soul of the band was always Greg Ginn so you can’t have a full blown reunion without him. That having been said, when a band reunites and their only claim to the name is one member (see The Lemonheads. the Misfits, and/or Guns ‘n’ Roses) how is that really a reunion. In the case of Black Flag two of the four members of the reunited band actually played in the band the first time around, whereas with Flag four of the five members played in the band previously. By the strictest definition of the word, Flag is more of a reunion than Black Flag. Not that any of it really matters. In either case, the bands are going to sell a crap-load of tickets, probably make some descent money, and hopefully sell some records (lord knows that SST needs the sales). I’ve honestly never been much of a Black Flag fan, which is probably why I’m fairly indifferent to the reunions. I will say that it is kind of funny that Ginn has finally decided to bring back out the Black Flag name after he seemed to try to avoid it for so many years.

  2. I would have to disagree with your comment that Flag is more of a reunion band than Black Flag is. As you mentioned, the heart of soul of Black Flag was, is, and always will be Greg Ginn and any “reunion” without him simply isn’t. The fact is that Greg Ginn was a constant in the band throughout it’s entire career whereas the members of Flag were only members each briefly. In fact, many of the members of Flag did not play together in Black Flag at the same time (with the exception of Chuck Dukowski) so you can’t really call them a reunion because who would they be reuniting? For instance, Bill Stevenson was never in the band at the same time as Keith Morris or Dez Cadena.

  3. I see your point. Yes most of the members of Flag did not play in Black Flag at the same time, but two of the members of the reunited Black Flag never played in Black Flag before the reunion. I guess that was my only point. Now had Greg Ginn been the only person in the reunited Black Flag that had played previously in Black Flag, then I wouldn’t call that a reunion at all. Granted that isn’t the case so it really doesn’t matter. lol

    This does beg the question though…why are some bands defined by one member and others aren’t. For example, Screeching Weasel at this point is nothing more than Ben Weasel with a backing band, yet he defined that band so the name can go on as long as he is in it whereas U2 is completely defined by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullins Jr. Take any one of them away and it is no longer U2. I’m not sure if this is making any sense or not…

  4. Makes complete sense. I agree that some bands are defined by their entire roster, U2 as you mentioned as an example (in my opinion, The Beatles would be another example), and some bands are defined by certain members. In this case, Black Flag, in my opinion, is defined by Greg Ginn. Another example, like you mentioned, would be Screeching Weasel. Yet another example would be Bad Religion. To me, without Greg Graffin, the band would not be Bad Religion.

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