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FFF review: Flag

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 8, 2013

Depending on how you count and what you count as being “in the band,” between 10 and 15 people, rotated out of the original run of Black Flag (about 1976 to 1986), a crucial band in the development of American hardcore punk. The most famous member is Henry Rollins, who was the band’s fourth singer. The sole constant was founder/guitarist Greg Ginn, who now lives outside of Austin. This year, Ginn has been touring with a revived version of Black Flag, a name that Ginn owns. They have recorded a new album called “What The-?”

That band did NOT play at Fun Fun Fun Friday night.

Are we clear on that? OK. Moving on.

The gents who headlined the Black stage at FFF were Flag, consisting of Keith Morris (first Black Flager singer, late of Circle Jerks, currently of Off), Chuck Dukowski (earliest bass player on a record, crucial early member), Dez Cadena (third singer, rhythm guitarist from 1980 to 1983, sometime songwriter), Bill Stevenson (drummer, 1983 to 1985) and guitarist Stephen Egerton (never before in an iteration of Black Flag, but played in Decendents and All with Stevenson). They played the music of Black Flag nobody in this band ever played those songs with everyone else in the band from 1976 to 1986.

Is everyone with me so far? Outstanding.

So this was a chance for a lot of people to see a bunch of songs they never thought they would ever see played live by guys who may or may not have played on or sung the original versions. Weirdly, it worked pretty well.

Just so we knew what were seeing, Morris noted “We are not Black Flag. We are Flag.” Then: boom.

Morris is 58 years old (which he declared to be “the new 37”) but rocks like a younger man (perhaps a 37 year old in, say, 1990), as does everyone else in the outfit. Stage divers got braver as the set rolled along, the band plowing through mid-tempo, BF classics such as “Fix Me,” “I Don’t Care,” “No Values” and “Depression.”

One of the sweeter, more powerful moments came when Cadena took the mic for songs such as “American Waste” and “Six Pack.”

About 45 or 50 minutes, no fat, pure Flag.