Initially billed as “Black Flag: The First Four Years,” this was the concert of the year for both aging punkers and their kids, or the new breed that could be their kids. The legendary punk band “reunited” and played two shows in a benefit for animal rescue groups in the South Bay. “Reunited” must be in quotes, however, as the show Friday was nothing as advertised. For the first third, the music dated from outside the time frame in the ad — and for most of the performance, there wasn’t even a live bass. Instead, Black Flag’s two guitar players, Greg Ginn and Dez Cadena, played over an unnamed drummer and a prerecorded bass track, enraging the house.
Cadena and Ginn opened their bass-free first set by playing the entirety of “My War,” a dirgey record from 1983, with skateboarding pro Mike Vallely subbing in for Henry Rollins as vocalist. While Vallely did a suitable imitation, the bass tape, plus the metallic drone of that unpopular disc, drew massive booing.
Not until a live bassist (presumably C’el Revuelta, the band’s last bass player) and a new drummer, Robo (who played on many of Black Flag’s classic recordings), appeared did they gel at all, with Cadena singing BF classics like “Thirsty and Miserable” and “White Minority.”
The bass tape returned for the third set, with Cadena essaying the band’s best-known songs, “Six Pack,” “Jealous Again” and “TV Party.” “TV Party” was a disaster, owing to the inability of the band to sync with the prerecorded part.
Using a powerful name from the past to sell a brand that it doesn’t resemble is dishonest, even if the cause was noble. If the band does it again, avoid it like bug spray.