Live at Denver’s storied Oriental Theater, the current iteration of the legendary hardcore outfit – featuring founding member Greg Ginn – was in rare form.
BY TIM HINELY
The Oriental Theater keeps bringing the noise of old, new (wave) and plenty in between with previous/upcoming gigs by The Fixx, Hot Snakes, Killing Joke and yes, on this night, Black Flag.
The last chance I had to see Black Flag when I really wanted to was 4/7/84 in Philly (I remember the date cos’ it my pal’s birthday) and they all went to the show and I had to work (busboy at a restaurant). They played in Trenton several times in 1985 until the broke up in the Summer of ’86 but I wasn’t such a big fan of that Black Flag material so I never went to see them during those years.
I really wish I would have (and I did see the first ever Rollins Band gig) but alas…
Back to the present….i caught this version of Black Flag a few months ago when they were here for the Saboro festival in which they played a shortened set. Here they were back a few months later and headlining on this night (we missed the openers).
These days the band is founding member Greg Ginn on guitar with pro skater Mike Vallely on vocals and the rhythm section of Tyler Smith on bass and Isaias Gil on drums. Though the band released an album in 2013, What The…. the set on this night consisted of old, classic material.
A few things, Ginn’s guitar still has that classic, rusty-chainsaw sound and Vallely is a classic growler in the Rollins vein (a real throaty growl) and of the rhythm section Smith is solid but Gil is a really terrific drummer.
In the hour plus set we heard old chestnuts like opener “Depression,” “No Values,” “Fix Me,” “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” “Six Pack” ( the first B.F. record I ever bought, in 1983 or so).
They kept chugging along, with and extended version of “Slip It In,” “Revenge,” “Clocked In,” “Nervous Breakdown,” “TV Party” and plenty more. They ended it sweaty and exhausted with a rousing version of “Louie Louie” and called it a night.
Oh and no theremin solos!
People have their own opinions of what this version of Black Flag means and represents and they’re certainly entitled to it but Black Flag in 2019 sounds fine to me and I’m glad I went (and will most likely go again).