Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Black Flag/Good For You; Oakland Metro Opera House, 7/23/13

Despite the fact that I'm still reeling from the news of the death of my friend Jason, Disaster Amnesiac absolutely had to get over to Oakland to catch the revamped Black Flag. Oakland Metro Opera House was packed, and the vibe was great. I have to hand it to the younger music demographic: these kids are cool, and they don't suffer from a lot of the same hangups that plagued the Punk Scene many years ago. Seriously, Disaster Amnesiac was happy to be talking to people in their teens and twenties who displayed no artifice whatsoever. I tip my cap.

OK, the music! First up, Mike Vallely's Good For You brought their Southern California inflected heavy Rock vibes, equal parts post-Flag SST and Palm Desert bake. I dug their dirge-ey sounds a bit more than Mike's previous band, Mike V and the Rats. Seeing as that the band is essentially Black Flag (Ginn, Moore, Klein), you know that they're going to be groovy and full of dramatic stops and starts. Moore and Klein, on drums and bass respectively, pushed and pulled the songs, and Ginn had tons of room with which to shred out his six stringed abstractions, along with his exploratory theremin moves. Mike's got a cool shamanic front man thing going on. To the guy who was screaming for them to "play fast!", screw you, shut up and feel the groove, numb nuts. Seriously, let it ooze.
Above: Mike Vallely brings down the muses
Below: Good For You are a band, too

Below: Ginn stretches strings

As for Black Flag, Disaster Amnesiac wants to say this: the band is not so much about a specific time or movement. Black Flag is a process. As such, it has living qualities. Black Flag sure as fuck felt lively to this audience member, too. Ginn does not seem to doing some nostalgia trip. The group played four or five new songs, and they all fit within the growth-focused model that he always had for the band. They are unique to this era. The group also played tunes from the earliest iteration (Fix Me, I've Had It, Nervous Breakdown), through the Damaged era (Rise Above, TV Party), My War (Can't Decide) and up to Slip It In (Black Coffee). Ron Reyes was incredible, his voice was strong and his stage presence natural and fun. Gregory Moore, wow, what a beast on drums. His rhythmic sense seems a lot more manic than some of the other drummers that Greg has employed, but Ginn seems to love to play with him. Dave Klein did a fine job of keeping everything tied together. And Ginn's solos? His abstract noisy quests remain wigged out and psychedelic; what a joy to close the eyes and listen to him expound upon his personal musical vocabulary.
One particularly striking moment occurred when everyone seemed a bit out of phase on Can't Decide, but the way they all simultaneously found the one, hammered home by Reyes' shout, was breathtaking. Black Flag always seemed like a "warts and all" group, one in which the physical process and effort would trump mere proficiency. They have retained that magic up into their current era.

Above: Black Flag, a living band

The last time that Disaster Amnesiac saw Black Flag, in 2003 in San Jose, CA, it seemed a bit faltering, as if Greg was unsure of it. Not so, ten years later. Him and Ron seemed to be having fun while displaying a real swagger. You know, Rock band stuff. Real band stuff.

Above: Four dudes, one band

Below: Davo?

No comments: