“Where Is The Rant On The Black Flag Reunions?”
This question courtesy of my own nagging subconscious.
As a teenager / young adult who clung to Everything Went Black like it was the Rosetta Stone, I never imagined the powerful, no nonsense unit that called itself Black Flag would ever exist as two separate factions on the punk rock reunion circuit a la Ratt or Steppenwolf. Yet here we are, staring down a festival season where “Flag” (founding members Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski plus drummer Bill Stevenson plus Stephen Egerton from the Descendents) will perform at a Las Vegas bowling party in May while “Black Flag” (founding guitarist Greg Ginn plus second BF singer Ron Reyes plus nobody knows yet) is set to play the U.K.’s Hevy Fest in August. The sad part is this is not the first time this has happened.
In 2002 Henry Rollins (BF singer #4) assembled the benefit album Rise Above to help raise funds for the West Memphis Three, and it was a big deal in part because several former Flaggers—Morris, Dukowski, mid-period bassist Kira Roessler—agreed to participate. Noticeably absent was Greg Ginn; It’s unclear (at least from preliminary Google searches) if Hank reached out to him for the album, but I’d be surprised if he did considering the well-documented glacier that formed between the pair following Black Flag’s 1986 disbanding. What can be confirmed is Ginn’s lack of immunity to the nostalgia bug. The guitarist also had his own charity to champion. Thus, in 2003 Greg Ginn reformed his version of Black Flag, with a robot, for a one-time concert to benefit wayward cats. It didn’t go so well.
These previous situations both benefitted worthy causes, so it was hard to be very angry at what was going on generally. Now, however, it looks like a different ball game. I don’t fault these guys for doing their separate things with the members they still get along with because, hey, we all like to have fun and get paid if we can, but as a fan it’s just the worst. I want to believe Black Flag was at some point a sacred order, the one thing upon which all its varied members could agree—let’s do the band this way or not do it all—and that maybe one day in the near future they’ll go back to this mindset. Of course, I suppose you want to believe that about every musical group you see. The hard truth is none of these people are monks and they’re all on the wrong side of fifty. So what shall be shall be.
It could be worse. The Ramones could be reforming with the Geico lizard on vocals. It’s all about perspective.
Image swiped from blackflaglogo.tumblr.com.