Black Flag/The Royal We/Cinema Cinema - Club Europa, Brooklyn - 22nd June 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Anthony Allen Van Hoek   
Friday, 04 July 2014 03:00



I went into this with as much of an open mind as one can have in a situation like this. Just ask your upstairs neighbor, your delivery guy or your aunt Helen, everyone’s got an opinion about the current Black Flag. And yes, so do I, but Greg Ginn doesn’t owe me any money and I was never in his band so I don’t care about that stuff. To me, BF’14 is a bit like if Keith Richards grabbed a band of unknowns and went on tour as the Rolling Stones. Kind of lame, but still, it’s Keith fucking Richards! In this case it’s Greg fucking Ginn, playing THOSE songs and that’s pretty cool in my book. I’m not a fan of fake versions of bands and I’ve been referring to this as “Black Flag” when I told anybody I was going to this show, but the real Black Flag was always changing styles and members so it’s not too far off from what Black Flag was always all about anyway.




So, the show: I walked in about midway through Cinema Cinema’s set. Fairly interesting two piece playing noisy punkish, weirdo tunes. Not bad but all two piece bands I’ve ever seen or heard would be better if they had a bass; it’s just a fact, sorry. They seemed really appreciative to be there and thanked the crowd and Black Flag repeatedly so that’s cool.


Next up was Ginn’s solo project The Royal We. It was just him playing spacey, noodley guitar with backing tapes and a television screen playing things like Charlie Chaplin and the Hindenburg. I thought it was really good, if a tad too long. His playing was great though. Some of the punkers were getting a bit impatient near the end of the set but that’s to be expected.




After a pretty long break between sets exacerbated by Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits played on repeat, Black Flag finally hit the stage. I believe they started with an instrumental then went into 'Rise Above', which was fucking great! 'Rise Above' contains the two best lines ever written in a hardcore punk song: “We are born with a chance! And I am gonna have my chance!” The new rhythm section is fantastic, particularly drummer Brandon Pertzborn, who was most likely born after Black Flag broke up in ’86. New singer Mike Vallely could use some work on his cadence, however, but it did not take away from that song’s innate power. For the most part it was a greatest hits set: 'Six Pack', 'Nervous Breakdown', 'I’ve Had It', 'Fix Me', 'Jealous Again', 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' (with a cool drum intro), 'Slip It In', 'Revenge', 'Depression', 'Can’t Decide' (which I recall as teenager my dad used to go around singing the chorus of to make fun of my brother and me), 'Police Story', 'Black Coffee', 'Beat My Head Against the Wall', 'Annihilate This Week', 'No Values', and 'TV Party'. I’m sure I’m forgetting something but you get the picture. They also did two 'Good For You' songs which I have mixed feelings about, but thankfully they did not play anything off of 'What The…' Nothing from the 'In My Head' album either, which actually has a few good tunes.


The band looked like they were having a blast on stage with Ginn cheersing and fist bumping audience members (I got a personal cheers from his Amstel light bottle after 'Six Pack'). And he’s back to playing a clear guitar, even though this one’s an ESP instead of an Armstrong. Personally I could watch him play guitar all night so I had a great time up front the whole set. Another great thing about BF’14 is that you’re not in any danger of getting kicked in the head if you’re standing up front, so that was cool. One guy in his 40s attempted a couple of weak stage dives but complained about how no one wanted to catch him so he stopped.




Mike Vallely did a pretty decent Rollins imitation but I feel like he should really go all the way and wear the dark blue skimpy running shorts just to fully sell it. He definitely gives it his all but he looks like a man in a bit over his head. Given time who knows what he might grow into however. It was clear that he and Ginn are good friends, as they traded jokes and playful punches before and during the set. Not to mention that they were both wearing the same style and color Vans sneakers and drinking Amstel Lights (you never would’ve seen a member of Black Flag drinking any kind of beer before or after a show back in the day!).


They concluded their set with a Louie Louie jam that saw the band members all switch instruments. Eventually Ginn stopped playing and was dancing around in the audience as the band continued the song. I’ve got to say that in all the times I saw Black Flag play in their so called heyday, no one ever really looked they were having fun on stage, hahaha! After the show Ginn hung out and took pics with whoever wanted to and signed albums.




I went the whole review without once mentioning the theremin, so there!


Highly recommended if they come your way! Unless you don’t like fun, then stay home.



Anthony Allen Van Hoek mangles the guitar in Chesty Malone and the Slice ‘em Ups and also does art.