Black Flag at the Vex Arts Center: Live Review

By on 17 July 2013
Black Flag’s recent reunion has been the cause of a huge amount of hype over the last few months, but can Greg Ginn’s current incarnation of the band deliver the goods onstage? We sent Joshua Sindell to find out…
Sure, Dez Cadena, Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson might be somewhere out on the road right now, performing their fans’ favourite songs and waving their Flag as high as they, the original members, can. Who cares? Tonight, co-founding guitarist Greg Ginn provides the right colour, at least, as Black Flag returns to play their hometown for the first time since Ginn’s disastrous 2003 re-formation of his band.
Manic duo It’s Casual start things off, local heroes who’ve opened for Fu Manchu and Mondo Generator in the past. They play fast, loud songs about the important things in life: Taking the bus, falling in lust, and smoking dust. What’s not to like?
Well, it’s easy to really hate the ironically-named Good For You, which is basically Ginn and his rhythm section jamming away in the most stultifyingly dull fashion possible, while skater/singer Mike Vallely tries his best to look as tormented as Henry Rollins used to do. They. Play. For. A. Solid. Hour. That. Seems. Like. A. Year.
After a short break, all hope for a pleasant evening is miraculously saved by Ron ‘Chavo Pederast’ Reyes, who joins Ginn and the others as Black Flag play a rousing set of the tunes that birthed American hardcore: “Nervous Breakdown,” “Jealous Again,” “T.V. Party” and so many more. Reyes, who joined the group after Keith Morris departed, remains a presence so wild and charismatic it’s difficult to believe he’s 52 and not 25. He has the kind of voice that makes it easy for tonight’s three generations of L.A. punk rockers to sing and mosh along to with ferocity. Ultimately, the night isn’t a total triumph for Ginn, but neither is his legacy irreparably damaged.
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