Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Flag

This is not Black Flag – only it is

By Tim Stegall, 9:49AM, Sat. Nov. 9, 2013

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Flag
photo by Shelley Hiam

The appearance of Flag onstage at FFF on Friday couldn’t have been more different than the other acts playing the festival. They set up their own gear. Which is a perfect context setter. That’s the way Black Flag did it back in the day, with just a two-man road crew – if that – for all those pioneering death-march punk rock van tours of America.

And as Keith Morris’ mocking introduction took pains to point out, four of these men – Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, and Bill Stevenson – used to be Black Flag.

“We are not Black Flag,” announced the singer. “We are Flag.”

You could have fooled us.

Local founder Greg Ginn doesn’t like it, but this is Black Flag. This is his and Dukowski’s music writ large and played properly, with all the spirit and joy required. This isn’t some phoned-in nostalgia trip.

Black Flag’s music remains relentlessly physical – brutal – a raw scream at fascist America, a sheer release for the quintet onstage transferred directly to the rest of the savagely moshing and stage-diving throng. Ginn won’t like it a bit, but that’s what his former compatriots and his guitartastic stand-in Stephen Egerton are doing.

And, ugly truth be told, they’re doing it far better than the Ginn-led Black Flag these days.

No surprises in this set-list. The 50-minute fusillade was essentially The First Four Years, Damaged, and the song “My War,” with even the Henry Rollins tunes sung by Morris: “Revenge,” “Police Story,” “White Minority,” “No Values,” “Rise Above.”

Three-quarters of the way in, Morris yielded the mic to rhythm guitarist Dez Cadena, who was Rollins’ predecessor at the Black Flag mic. As in his time, Cadena’s tunes explode. “American Waste,” “Six Pack,” “Damaged 1” – the rage erupts. Time-honored set-closer “Louie Louie,” with Cadena back on guitar, finished it.

What a celebration. Flag wins, hands down.

For more Fun Fun Fun Fest coverage, see www.austinchronicle.com/fun-fun-fun-fest. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.
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