Not only has the most intense of U.S. hardcore punk pioneers Black Flag re-formed, but they’ve done so in two competing lineups. Besides this grouping, which reunites second Black Flag vocalist Ron Reyes with leader Greg Ginn, there’s also Flag, the band featuring virtually every classic ex-bandmember except best-known singer Henry Rollins.
Ginn’s decision to re-form the band he made his name, and punk rock history, with seems to be more controversial than celebrated in most quarters, but really, the weirdest thing about Black Flag reuniting is, with the guitarist based in nearby Taylor, Texas, the onetime scourge of the LAPD now effectively leads a local band!
Performing with Reyes two years back for the singer’s 50th birthday celebration in Vancouver, Ginn discovered that he’d missed the strongly emotional, intense, atonal hard-rock-at-beyond-Ramones velocity that became Black Flag’s forte. Quietly, he and Reyes have been writing and recording new Black Flag material with drummer Gregory A. Moore and, most recently, Dave Klein on bass for the past year in Taylor. The first new track, “Down in the Dirt,” was made available as a free download May 2.
Anyone expecting “Rise Above 2013” or even the molten jazz-metal of their endgame will be sorely disappointed. Nevertheless, the song’s still an intense, driving, machine-gun riff, with a stuttering rhythm, Theremin squeals, and Reyes’ fuck-you vocals. It manages to be thrilling, new, and pure – uncompromising Black Flag – and very much a product of Ginn’s singular drive and vision.
Opening: Good For You, another Ginn-guitared band, with skate legend Mike Vallely on vocals. The watch words this night will be “intensity” and “commitment.”
Black Flag lives.– Tim Stegall
Banana hammocks ripened every corner of Austin last summer when drag artist extraordinaire Paul Soileau dropped his debut album as the “Bustin’ Brown” sex machine Christeene. Finally, the freakiest thang since Big Freedia had an album sexually chaotic enough to match her live show, which, it’s worth noting, features nudity, urinating, spitting, and a good amount of onstage ass-play. Fantasy N Khatti and cosmic punk quartet Suspirians open.– Chase Hoffberger
In 1990, on the occasion of Flowers in the Dirt, I saw Paul McCartney at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium. The spectacle and open-air bowl felt like a scene out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The cute Beatle had recently reconciled solo Paul with Sgt. Pepper, so “Jet,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Band on the Run” segued into the likes of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Hey Jude, don’t be afraid.– Raoul Hernandez