Holy. Fucking. Shit.
I never thought that I'd be able to see Black Flag at any point in my life; up until about a month ago, I thought the closest I'd ever get would be a tribute band I saw at the old Emo's, but when I heard that they were reforming and playing their first US touring show in 26 years in Austin, I knew I had to go. I had neglected to buy a ticket until the day of the show, but luckily, I got a scalper to throw me one for fairly cheap - lucky for me, since there were only fifty tickets left at the door. During the two hour wait in line (the doors were at 8:00, we were told the doors would open at 7:00, and I got there at 6:00), I chatted with a few people in line, and various people entertained themselves in line by asking businessmen giving us the stink-eye if they were going to Black Flag, screaming "fuck" at the top of our lungs, and pointing out the fact that the Flag's first touring show in years would be directly across from a bank. After a while, I met up with one of my friends and we all went inside and waited around for the first band to start. While we were dicking around, we noticed that the shirts (and all the merch, actually) were $10. Needless to say, we bought a fuckton of shirts for ourselves.
Deadly Reign went on first, and they had a really good response from the crowd. Their stage presence was almost unnoticed though (at least from me), so I can't really say much about that - especially since the audience spent a good chunk of time trying to dodge elbows being thrown by a hardcore dancer.
Greg Ginn's band Good For You went on next. Basically, it was Black Flag with Mike Vallely instead of Chavo Pederast. They were okay; the music was sort of boring, to be honest. Honestly, I could barely tell that Greg was playing guitar at all most of the time; the bass drove the music, and Greg was either dicking around with a theremin, playing scales, or moving around with his guitar. After about an hour of that, the band went to go take a break before they went back on as Black Flag.
The show was peppered before and after each band with some guy pumping up the audience, telling them to enter a raffle to win a customized Black Flag skateboard or a $200 gift card to a tattoo shop or some shit like that. The audience heckled them, being in the belief that if they went off the stage now
, "the Flag" would be on sooner. Shit, even when Black Flag did take the stage, the audience started shouting at them to get on with the show, and even singing "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" for them. They waited patiently for the guys to settle down before going onstage. Ron came from offstage after about a five minute jam session and opened the show with the loudest, most enthusiastic scream I've ever heard:
"It's not my imagination! I've got a gun in my baaaaaaaack!
After that, the venue exploded in a frenzy as if a bomb had gone off. People started sailing over our heads, the crowds surged and flowed, and the band kept launching into fan favorite after fan favorite. They didn't really talk to the audience that much, preferring to just play their instruments (and in Greg's case, dicking around with the theremin again) and get off the stage. The band had some sound issues (feedback was sent through the PA in droves whenever someone moved the microphone next to any instrument/monitor/whatever), but aside from that, the band was great. Ron played with the enthusiasm of a man half his age, being able to shrug off having beer cans pelted at him (even drinking a few of them), having fans accidentally punch him in their fist-banging enthusiasm, and even being yanked into the crowd by enthusiastic fans while still singing. They did some pretty cool stuff onstage, such as Ron toasting the crowd with a coffee mug before they played Black Coffee, or Greg adding the theremin in certain places in the set.
The show ended with the band playing Louie Louie, something that made the older/more "Flag savvy" fans laugh, since Ron quit during this song in the "old days". The audience stayed put, assuming that they'd play "My War", "Nothing Left Inside", "Scream", or "Slip it In" as an encore (the chants changed every twenty seconds), but once the "raffle guy" came out to announce some random bullshit, the audience realized that the show was over, and they swarmed out the doors. Some people were sticking around for the Punk Rock Karaoke that was coming up in a few seconds, others to get one last shirt and beer, and so on. I was going to stick around to sing a Black Flag song or something at the karaoke thing, but my ride was already outside, so I decided against it.
Overall, I had a lot of fun. I personally think that this band has around the same level of energy as FLAG, but that the latter wins out. If you want to go see this group, go. Have fun. You won't regret it.
I’ve Had It
Blood and Ashes
Now is the Time
It’s Not My Time to Go Go
Gimme Gimmie Gimmie
Wallow in Despair
Down in the Dirt (extended)
Can’t Decide (extended)
Louie Louie (extended)