Rise Above Benefit Concert - live at Amoeba Records (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Rise Above Benefit Concert

live at Amoeba Records (2002)

live show

Seeing as Black Flag is my favorite band of all time and I had been listening to them non-stop for close to 5 years, I went absolutely maniacal when I heard that Henry Rollins, his very talented backing band Mother Superior, Keith Morris, and Chuck Dukowski were planning a free show in honer of the benefit album and the West Memphis Three. I got to Amoeba at about 3 pm for the 7 pm show. I decided I'd get there early to check out some stuff, buy something, and get a good spot. When I was done "shopping" I asked where the band would be playing. It ended up that they were playing on a "stage" only 3 feet off the ground and with no barrier between the crowd and the band, with very little security. So I waited basically sitting on the stage for hours as the place slowly filled up, by 7 pm I was very glad that I had arrived so early and was in spot no more than 6 inches from the performers. There must have been close to 1000 people in this place, it was like a sweat box record store!

So anyway, soon enough Mother Superior jumped onstage, picked up their instruments and the insane Keith Morris jumped out on this tiny little stage and yelled "We're not doing this show for us, or for you, we're doing it for three guys who are in jail because they lived in the wrong town." And with I heard the classic "Nervous Breakdown" intro and we were off! Keith did an AWESOME job, especially for a guy of age 50 and with cancer. The band was extremely tight and played fast and intricately. Morris screamed and tore his way through "Fix Me", "Wasted", and "Gimme Gimme Gimme" as well. It was astonsihing to have Mr. Morris, a punk rock god, basically yelling right into my and my friends faces.

And with the end of that short set of songs Morris threw the mic to Henry Rollins as he came onto the stage and immediately hit "Rise Above". Rollins, who usually attends the stage in only his small black shorts was in full black dress clothing here strangely, but it didn't matter since he kicked out the hard jams with a fucking vengence. The crowd was very respectful to the band considering the proximity and size of the stage. There were a few stage divers and one guy kicked Rollins but nothing serious. Henry ripped through tight, fast, and crushing versions of "Jealous Again", "No Values", "Depression", "Thirsty & Miserable" without an pausing for breath.

Then with a quick throw of the mic Black Flag's former bass player Chuck Dukowski stormed onto stage and sang "What I See", after seeing him sing it made me wonder why Chuck never wanted to sing in a band, he was creepy and crazy looking. He sounded just like he does on the Rise Above record, it was great.

After that Chuck gave the mic back to Henry who returned with "Revenge" and the crowd went nuts. Following that was the best song of the night "Police Story" where Rollins actually went into his classic Black Flag psycho mode screaming his lungs out at the end yelling "Fuck 'em! Fuck 'em!". They then played "I've Had It" and ended the blistering night with my favorite Flag song of all time "My War". And with final scream of the song Henry said goodnight and immediately left the stage.

The most distinct quality I noticed about this show was the fact that the entire set was absolutely devoid of filler, not one second was wasted onstage. Every song was done tight, perfect and violently. The set of 15 songs lasted only a little over 30 minutes. Not to say that I don't like long songs (Black Flag's slow tracks are great) but this set was the tightest thing I have ever seen.

When the show ended i decided I'd try to get my copy of "Rise Above" signed but I left to find out where the line started and discovered that I had lost my place. Seeing as I had already met and talked with Rollins on two other occasions and already had signed stuff, I figured I'd call it a night. An intense night.