Friday, June 28, 2013

Images and Insight from the Black Flag Reunion

In the days and weeks leading up to Black Flag's reunion show at Warsaw in Brooklyn my interest in attending reached an epic low. The fact that my friends in Cinema Cinema were on the bill was an exciting addition but hell, I could see them most days of the week without the hassle of bouncers, barricades and drunken forty somethings trying to relive their glory days in the mosh pit.

Lucky for me, the excitement of my friends in Cinema Cinema and the fact that they were kind enough to get me on the guest list allowed me the opportunity to have a friend come along and enjoy what had become an extra ticket. By the time Jason got to the club we had already missed the first band and made it to the front just in time to watch Ev and Paul of Cinema Cinema set up their weapons of mass destruction. It was great to be there to celebrate their success. The band has been incredibly busy playing countless shows, recording, making videos while practicing brain surgery as a hobby. The duo put on an amazing show that really doesn't change with the size of the stage, venue or audience. Big, loud, manic hard rock beauty with lots of reverb, distortion and intensity. One of the biggest rushes I got from their set had nothing to do with what they were playing. It was seeing Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes leaning on every note while proudly wearing Cinema Cinema gear. That impressed me a lot. For as long as I can remember going to shows. I've seen too many bands hanging outside the club or backstage while other bands (many of which were their friends poured their hearts out on stage.) A great show and another great opportunity for this very deserving band. They've got a new 7 inch with a cover of PJ Harvey's '50 Ft. Queenie' out on Dromedary Records. Go scoop up a couple of dozen copies.

When I got wind that a forth band was added to the bill I was less than excited. In reality,
I was hoping for a short night and an additional band meant I wasn't getting home anytime soon. That all changed though when Good For You got down to business.
Honestly, I did not know thing one about this band beforehand, but by the time they were half way through their set, I was ready to run out and get the record. Take Black Flag and add skater and all around bad ass Mike Vallely's blues rock elements and you've got yourself a little party.
Mike makes an awesome frontman. During the set  many in the crowd had gotten very drunk, belligerent and downright stupid. Throwing beer at the stage (Yeah, you have to be pretty fucking stupid to waste beer.) But he took it in stride "Throwing beer at me is like throwing a glass of water at the ocean." When things got a little out he hand, he reminded the instigators that he could indeed beat the life out of them. It was a good set. One I was really glad to have experienced.

As Black Flag took the stage the crowd started pushing their way towards the stage. I couldn't help but feel a war was about to break out. I had no idea it was going to be world war III. The crowd went ballistic as Ron Reyes launched into the bands set. As much of my Black Flag history relies on Keith Morris, Henry Rollins and Dez Cadena. I wasn't sure what to expect from Reyes? Would I have a chance to experience a band whose early releases turned this and many other young teens into lifetime Flag bearers? Lucky for me and anyone with a ticket, the latter would firmly apply. This was no old man reliving his salad days. Ron Reyes' presence and overall performance was strictly legit and praise worthy. Watching Greg Ginn firing on all cylinders gave me an entirely new level or respect for him, his work and his integrity. 

As Black Flag ripped through their set I found myself fighting for my own survival, as the crowd pushed forward the photographers at the front were being crushed against the metal barriers. The constant pressing against the gates andassault of feet, fists, kicks and sweat definitely took it's toll. The people fighting to squeeze us out from the front didn't help much. Notable were the group of four or so forty somethings whose drunken mayhem was so idiotic, it made one of their wives visibly distraught.
Then there was the guy who spent most of the GFU and Black Flag sets giving anyone and everyone the middle finger while endlessly screaming "Fuck You" to the bands he paid to see. As I headed out I saw some old friends, many of which I was just to drained to stop and talk to.
Before I could leave I got into an altercation with a guy who almost knocked me over while pushing his way through the crowd. I threw the garbage can that he had pushed over in his direction which prompted him to swing on me. Luckily, he was so drunk that he missed me by a zip code. He would have most certainly ended me if cooler heads  hadn't stepped in to diffuse the situation. Overall, it was a great show that had it's share of challenges and frustration. All things considered, it gave me the chance to experience musical experiences both old and new. I guess you can go back every once in a while.
James Damion

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