Black Flag

Black Flag: live in Los Angeleslive in Los Angeles (2003)
Black Flag

Reviewer Rating: 2

Contributed by: DooooDaaaaa
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Black Flag has been my favorite band of all time for at least 5 years now - everything from their earliest singles to their last album I have adored and played over and over to my heart's content. So When I heard that Greg was gonna have a "First Four Years" reunion show I was stoked. Well, let's c.

Black Flag has been my favorite band of all time for at least 5 years now - everything from their earliest singles to their last album I have adored and played over and over to my heart's content. So When I heard that Greg was gonna have a "First Four Years" reunion show I was stoked. Well, let's cut to the chase.

I got to the Palladium at around 5 pm after a stop and go traffic jam plagued ride from Ventura. I am the second person in line and I am immediately in conversation with a friendly older man and his young son. He tells me about how he'd seen every incarnation of Black Flag and that he'd seen the band play atleast 12 times. He went on to tell me that he used to watch the opening bands with Henry and that one day he offered Henry some coke and Henry refused with the reply "I'm a straight edge".

7 pm rolled around and the doors to the sold out show were finally opened. After a breif wait Mike V & The Rats took the stage like a hurricane. The playing was tight, fast and lean. Mike V himself has a great scream, although his presence on stage is erriely similar to the current way Henry Rollins uses himself. Anyway, they flew through a tight, damaging set. Songs I can remember- "Never Give In, Never Give Up", "Vendetta" and a great "fuck you Bush" song - I really need to get it on MP3.

Anyway, they leave stage and then 1208 came out and hit it. They were definitely not the right kind of band to open this show but survived nonetheless and managed to put in an above average effort. They played a couple new songs off their upcoming LP and a bunch of old ones as well. I remember "Lies That Lie" well. So, they leave stage to mild applause.

Now we are all psyched and ready for the mighty Black Flag to hit stage. So, Greg comes out, looking like he's 80 years old and ready to keel over and die. Dez had hair down to his waist and a beer gut so apparent that I could barely make out the Six Pack shirt he was wearing. But, looks have nothing to do with music, so this didn't bother me. They announced that they were first going to play the "My War" album in it's entirety with Mike V on vocals and an unnamed drummer. So they went at it. At first it sounded great, they began with a good Jam with Greg wigging out and getting his groove down and immediately went into the title track. Mike V. was doing a great job at vocals all the way up until side 2 of My War. While the band was playing tight throughout, Mike seemed to be reading the lyrics off a sheet on the ground, completely destroying any intensity and making the whole thing look amateur and silly. He ended up singing in the wrong spots because of this... it was just a mess.

But, the worst was yet to come, after Mike left, the band brought out the legendary Robo to replace the other drummer and Cel (Black Flag's last bassist) on bass. This looked promising, but the band slipped yet again. They sounded just really sloppy and unrehearsed. Dez wasn't getting the vocals in the right spot, nor was he singing with much anger or rage. Greg faltered a few times and a couple of the songs ended early and fell over due to the total lack of communication on the band's end. Robo, on the other hand, was fantastic, he hit every beat and was right on target.

It looked to me like the potentially amazing Greg wasn't really into this and didn't give it much determination. It's a real shame, by the end of the set I was praying that Rollins could come out and save the whole thing from being a complete disaster, but no luck in sight. Take my word for it, despite it's good cause and once amazing musicians, Keith, Rollins, and Chuck were wise to stay away from this. I'm not cutting down Greg, his guitar playing was, overall, frenetic and amazing - things just didn't click like I would have hoped. Oh well, it was worth the drive just to see Mike V & the Rats and hear some of Greg's classic guitar.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
deathbyguitar (July 27, 2006)

there actually is a black flag cover band called "black fag," and they're quite good. liberace morris anybody?

Anonymous (September 21, 2003)

Mike V and The Rats are just a bad Black Flag cover band!

Mike's primary goal in life is to
gargle with Henry Rollins testicles!

And 1208 are one of the most generic bands to come out in along time, total crap!

Whoever spent money on this fiasco should feel like a complete and total moron!

Anonymous (September 19, 2003)

The show sucked....and although there are more important issues than cats.....cats are cool, animals are cool and I have no problem donating to it. I'm not some redneck peice of shit who thinks its cool to runover cats or beat them. If you think that's ok then you might as well think it's ok to beat and run over a small child.....cause its the same god damn thing. Damn, people piss me off sometimes with their arrogant beliefs that they are for some reason "superior".

Anonymous (September 19, 2003)

Did you hear Saves the Day are starting a BF cover band...it's called Black Fag.

Apparentely the lead singer really likes that kinda shit.


joeg (September 18, 2003)

ah fuck the starving homeless dude on the street corner. let's save some cats!

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

The charity for this one was dumb as hell too. It sounded like a joke it was for lost kitty cats...lost fucking cats! What kind of charity is that!?

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

perhaps ginn didnt care.....it showed

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

First of all, black flag rules but it sounds like the show was kind of a bust, good thing i didnt go. second, mike v and the rats blew ass when i was them play with millencolin over the summer, maybe they got good in 3 months somehow.

LushJ (September 18, 2003)

Yikes, I'm glad I stuck to the Rollins one up here in Frisco. That rocked, the band was on top of it, Keith Morris and Henry Rollins knew all the words and were all over the place. Jello Biafra did "Jealous Again", it was a blast.

A bunch of friends saw the Greg Flag show in L.A. and they all gave it a big ol' thumbs down. Bummer, Ginn wrote the words and the music, but everyone else did a better job of performing it 20 years later.

Still, Black Flag are a great band, regardless of these latter-day Flag-related benefits.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

1208's frontman is Greg Ginn's nephew or something.. that is why they are here.

sickboi (September 17, 2003)

Oh, and to the guy asking about DC, I have a review of it on here somewhere, complete with a pic of Henry and Ian together.

sickboi (September 17, 2003)

Ian didn't sing on "Depression" in DC, it was "Rise Above".

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

yup, I came all the way from Michigan. I still don't know what to think. It started off cool, meeting Robo @ Denny's before Friday's show. But yeah, I wasn't too impressed w/ the "reunion". Honestly, I thought Mike V did a better job singing than Dez. C'el can't play for shit, and don't even get me started on the taped bass tracks (milli vanilli anyone?). At least it didn't skip during the show. I didn't even see the opening bands on Saturday (hung out @ Venice Beach instead - fuckin' cool) and didn't even stay for the whole BF set either. I wish I woulda caught Rollins' version of a "reunion" this summer, but oh, well. I spent $1500 on the whole trip, and all I got was a Black Flag shirt w/ a kitty-kat on it. Bummer.

TheOneTrueBill (September 17, 2003)

i went in Chicago, and it was a great, great show. Ian sang on Depression in DC. you're a fool for not going.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

I'm like kicking myself in the head for skipping the rollins show at the 930 club with q and not u this summer.. did anyone go?

FortyMinutesWest (September 17, 2003)

This is depressing..

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

Stick to the records kiddies because that's as far as the real thing you're ever gonna get from Black Flag.
Greg's a complete moron........

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

Hey man, I'm 20 years old.....I got into Flag when I was 15...maybe 14. I thinkl that's pretty respectful. I mean, any younger and I wouldn't really understand what the hell they were talking about. As I've grown ive come to appreciate their music more. That's why this concert let me down. And usually Ginn is tight, not sloppy. I've seen him perform solo numerous times and I have 5 different videos of different period Flag performances and he's always on target. But this was just awful.

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

"Black Flag has been my favorite band of all time for at least 5 years now"

This is just too easy to harass someone with.

Greg's style allows him to be as sloppy as as he wants.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i don't think i'm dumb for not going in. i think i am dumb for buying the ticket to this sheister fest. i had better things to do than to watch a half-assed would-be reunion fall apart...like watch tv.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Let's put it this way...the Rollins shows were some of the best I have EVER seen, out of any show (and I've seen quite a few) and this show was the worst (well, better than seeing NFG and Something Corporate at Warped....cringe)

skankin_in_the_pit (September 16, 2003)

Well, I don't regret not getting to see this as much after reading this review. It sounds like the Rollins shows were better. I woulda paid good money for either.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Did anyone go to the show that Good Riddance opened?

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Why was it advertised as the first 4 years when what they opened with was from the Rollins era and only person who sang for Black Flag who showed up played more years in the band on guitar than on vocals?

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

What the hell was the point of this show? Everyone knows Keith was their best ever vocalist, thats why so many people bought tickets for this shit fest.


Mr_Pink (September 16, 2003)

That's dumb. If I paid money for a show, couldn't ditch the ticket, and were standing outside the door, I'd at least check the thing out.

TheOneTrueBill (September 16, 2003)

this leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Wow, I'm glad I didn't fly to Cali for this...ugh. Despite what anyone says, I knew the Rollins thing would be far superior, especially when Ian showed up.


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i showed up to the gig trying to scap my ticket to this fiasco and i literally could not give it away. i actually thought about going in but after talking to several people who were walking out on the "black flag reunion" i decided to cut my loses and i went home and watched tv instead.

TheCommodore (September 16, 2003)

Was anyone else at the shows? I would love to find out what others thought of this show. Anyways, heres my whole opinion of what went down the first night of the supposed "Reunion show". The Black Flag Reunion show was a total RIP OFF! Greg Ginn's playing was not nearly up to par. I always thought Greg was the brains behind Flag, I was proved that is not true. Nobody showed for the reunion except Greg, Dez, and Robo. Robo didn't even do all the songs, and messed up on a few of the ones he did do, they had to have someone else do some of the songs. They started off by trying to re do the My War album, with pre-recorded bass (Ha Ha, sorry, I mean Dale Nixon, a.k.a. Greg Ginn on pre-taped Bass) it was awful, and they even started getting Boo'd by the time they finished Black Coffee, What a joke! Next Dez had to try to sing a bunch of the old songs, poor guy, he sounded awful. Some people came all the way from New York, they said this was one of the worst shows ever! It didn't help that the show was at The Hollywood Palladium, the worst venue in Hollywood. The whole thing Rollins put together was the real Black Flag reunion, quite a few people showed for that, and it sounded terrific. It just goes to show you how much Greg Ginn was hated by all the previous members. The Black Flag name has been tarnished. Sorry that I want, what a joke.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

If only Rollins would have done Side 2 of My War during some of his Rise Above shows......Rollins is the only person who can do those songs justice. That scream that he has is one that takes no prisoners.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i might be a big baby...


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)



Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

> here's the most through note i've received...
> I'll start with the purchase of the tickets.
> They were set at $27.50, but with Ticket
> Master "service charges" the total came to
> $41.10. This is by far the most I've ever
> paid for a concert ticket, but hey, it's
> Black Flag we're talking about, right? Well . . .
> September 12, 2003, Judgment Day. At this
> point I've heard all kinds of rumors about
> who will be up on stage. A month earlier I
> was told by Chuck Dukowski that he wasn't
> even asked to perform. A few weeks ago, Keith
> Morris sent out an e-mail to let everyone know
> that he was told his "services aren't needed."
> So I'm expecting to be let down.
> I arrive at 6 pm and there is already a
> massive line outside. I see people I know
> from as far as Detroit and New Jersey waiting
> to get in. Most of these people have Black
> Flag tattoos, some of them have never been to
> California before. I am informed that Robo
> will be playing. I am also told that HR will
> be a guest vocalist. I don't know what to
> believe.
> The audience has its share of sketchiness, a
> few LADS shirts, a swastika tattoo here and
> there, but nothing to the degree that I
> expected. The lobbies are full of booths set
> up by animal rescue organizations. Most
> people are indifferent. The first band goes
> on at 7:30. They are called Mike V. & the
> Rats, and they are okay at best. The guitarist
> walks out waving a Johnny Cash poster.
> Cash had died the day before. Some people
> cheer. The Rats are basically imitating the
> Damaged/My War era Black Flag sound, and Mike
> V. is doing his best Rollins impression. Mike
> V. says something like, "Years from now when
> they talk about Dylan, Springsteen, Cobain,
> Neil Young, and Cash, I'll feel honored to
> have shared the stage with one of these
> legends. And that is Greg Ginn. His tireless
> attitude and perseverance have paved the way
> for so many, and he will go down as one of
> the greatest songwriters and guitarists
> ever." They get some clapping in between
> songs. Most people are indifferent.
> The second band is called 1208. They are a
> pop-punk band on Epitaph who have only two
> things in common with Flag: Raymond Pettibon
> did the art for their album cover, and they
> are from the South Bay. 1208 try to have as
> little silence in between songs as possible,
> but when the band does stop to tune, they are
> met by a sea of booing. No one wants to hear
> them.
> Finally Ginn is on stage setting up. On the
> opposite side of the stage is Dez Cadena,
> whose hair is half way down his back. Ginn's
> drummer, named Drummer, is setting up his kit
> which looks and sounds like it was salvaged
> from a junk yard. There is no bass player,
> but instead an SVT cabinet crowned with a
> head and some kind of sampler. On top of the
> sampler is a cardboard face with a huge
> mustache wearing a real sombrero. This is
> "Dale Nixon," a computer that will play bass
> lines laid down by Ginn earlier. Dez grabs
> the mike and says something to the
> extent of, "There have been a lot of rumors
> flying around about this show. I want
> everyone to know that anyone who is not on
> this stage tonight has been given the
> opportunity to perform. Now we're going to do
> the entire My War album, and Mike V. is going
> to come out and sing." Mike V. comes out
> again, and this time he is literally getting
> a chance to do this best Rollins
> impersonation, which isn't that great, but
> not terrible. The whole band is keeping up
> with "Dale Nixon," which only allots 2-3
> seconds before automatically going into the
> next song. There is no time to tune. A few
> songs into it, there is a group of men
> towards the front who are shooing away and
> flipping off what they see on stage. One of
> them crowd surfs and gives two middle fingers
> to the band while yelling obscenities. Someone
> holds up a sign that reads "Bait Flag." A
> large plastic garbage can is tossed towards
> the stage, but only makes it to the front of
> the audience. When the entire My War album is
> played, there is a 10 second pause. 1/3 of the
> audience is clapping, 2/3 is booing. I'm just
> standing there scratching my head. Then Dale
> kicks back in and they're playing "Black
> Coffee." The second that song ends, Drummer's
> set is broken down.
> For the next 15 minutes stage hands are
> setting up Robo's kit. Robo is helping. A
> bassist who I am told is C'el, the last
> bassist for Flag, is on stage with an actual
> bass. Dez has his guitar in hand, and says,
> "This song is called Life of Pain." The band
> plays and Dez is singing now. I still don't
> know what to think, nor do most people. Half
> way through the song, Robo totally forgets
> his part, and it crumbles. Dez just starts
> the next song, "Thirsty and Miserable." After
> this, Dez takes off his guitar and grabs the
> mike. Alright, this is it. They play
> "Wasted," and the place goes nuts. Bodies are
> jumping and swirling around. There is a huge,
> scary slam pit. Robo sounds like he's rushing
> the songs, and screws another one up. Dez
> says, "This next song is called You Bet That
> I Don't Care, which is a hybrid song
> containing the verses of "I Don't Care" and
> the choruses of "You've Bet I've Got
> Something Personal Against You." The song
> feels like a real attack on it's original
> vocalist, Dukowski, and its original target,
> Morris. They play "Louie Louie" and Robo goes
> into an extended drum break. The rest of the
> band leaves the stage. People are getting
> uptight. Is this it? The band comes back and
> finishes the song. They were doing a John
> Bonham "Moby Dick" thing I guess. Somewhere
> around this time, Dez says, "After all these
> years, it's good to know who your real
> enemies are." My friend and I look at each
> other and shake our heads. What the fuck is
> Dez talking about? After about 10 songs from
> the first four years era, Dez says, "We'll be
> back in 10 minutes. Don't go anywhere." What
> now?
> Robo's kit is torn down, and Drummer's kit is
> set back up. Great. Sal leaves the stage, and
> the building. Now the line up is Drummer,
> Ginn, Dale Nixon, and Dez on vocals only.
> They blast through another 15 or so first
> four years songs, with the computer pausing
> only 3 seconds in between songs. Another
> plastic garbage can is thrown towards the
> stage, and misses again. The band butchers
> "T.V. Party," and "Revenge." Dez comes in
> late on most of the songs because he doesn't
> know when the robot/computer/Dale thing is
> going to hit it's first note. Everyone's
> timing is off. The machine begins the
> legendary opening for "Six Pack," but does it
> twice as fast as it's supposed to be. Ginn
> can't keep up on the opening guitar part. He
> has trouble playing along to his own
> recording. The band does some new Ginn jam
> song, and Dez has everyone singing along
> "FUCKED . . . UP!" Fucked up is right. After
> a few more early numbers, I look at my watch,
> and it is 10:59 pm. The lights in the whole
> building turn on. The band is still playing.
> They are doing "Depression" I think. A
> stagehand informs Dez that they have to stop.
> Dez tells the other guys to stop. Dale goes
> into the next song, and drummer turns him/it
> off. We all file out.
> I saw the Rollins Band do all Black Flag
> songs just a year previous, and it was
> incredible. Every song was played slower than
> on the records, but the energy and the spirit
> were there. What I saw on Sept 12 was not
> cool. It wasn't bad enough to incite a riot,
> but I couldn't get into it. I just kept
> wondering when the band was going to screw up
> next. Plus, there was this aura of
> backstabbing and negativity surrounding the
> whole event. It didn't feel right. What I saw
> on that stage was not Black Flag.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Saw the Circle Jerks at Sunset Junction a few weeks ago FOR FREE and saw them belt the shit out of "Nervous Breakdown" (probably my favorite Black Flag song anyway), then they got Andrew WK out for the "Wild in the Streets" encore.

Sounds a whole lot better than this show. Maybe I'll catch one of Greg's cheaper, smaller solo shows and see what he does.


Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

The Rollins Rise Above shows blew this weak performance away. Rollins and his band were tight and on target. As far as I'm concerned, that was Black Flag....not this mochary from the other night.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

anonymous below me-that was funny. i didn't go to this show but i did go to the rise above show in d.c. and i have to say that was one of the most amazing performances i've ever seen. no half assing or bullshitting or lack of preparation. henry and keith were going apeshit, the rollins band was tight, and they did do the songs justice and more. sounds like this show bombed like a motherfucker.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

Well at least your know your $27.50(before service fees)went to something good. Oh wait, it went to "saving" homelss cats. Not homeless people, homeless cats. Well look at things this way; Ginn is in his 50's, abandoned punk for techno years ago and lives with over 80 fuckin cats. And he organises two sold out Paladium shows (around 6000 paid), charges damn near $30 a head (about what Aerosmith tickets cost)and dosen't even fucking practice? Well, thos cats better be eatin some fucking Wiskis or some of the preimum cat shit. He may lable Rollins tour as fake and being backed by "a bunch of Sunset Strip cowboys" but at least they're out there giving the material the intensity it deserves. In Get In The Van, Hanks talks about a show they did where five people showed up so he played it half assed becasue he didn't care. Chuck took him aside and told him "you either give it 100% or you go home." I guess that's why Cuck is part of the Rise Above benifit, where Rollins goes balls out to help benifit three people who may be unjustly imprisioned and Greg plays an overpriced show with their worst bass player who was part of the band's worst era and dosen't even bother to make any effort, just so a bunch of wild cats can sleep indoors. Glad I decided to skip this one.

Exerpt from interview in Heckler Magazine in 1996
Q: Do you think you'll be attending any of the upcoming Descendents reunion shows?

Greg Ginn: Nah, I'd rather go to a rave.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

dont know if theres any other singer angry enuff to sing those songs on side 2 of my war other than rollins

dukowski was as much a part of the band as greg....he shoulda been there.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

first motha fuckas

like greg said in the last interview i read...fuck reunion shows

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