Black Flag: Why Greg Ginn and His Reunited Hardcore Crew Is Still Worth Seeing
Photo by Robert Kenney
No matter which current incarnation of Black Flag you may prefer to see or which former lineup is your favorite, there is no simply no arguing with the fact that the essential appeal of this band (beyond the imposing sonics, beyond Raymond Pettibon's vital imagery, beyond the legends chronicled in the pages of former lead singer Henry Rollins' memoirs) has always been its pure volatility.
Over the years, though, the anger and contempt that burned perpetually at this crew's core has begun to rage out of control.
What do these bars even mean anymore?
And most recently, longtime leader Greg Ginn has stoked the flames (and potentially put the band's legacy at risk) by filing a nasty little lawsuit against fellow founding member Keith Morris and his version of Black Flag (currently touring as Flag) as well as Rollins, despite his choice to opt out of all reunions. It's a move that many fans see as a petty undermining of the band's original ethos. And it's tarnished some of our memories.
But while it is certainly a despicable thing to see the members of a band that once rallied around anti-establishment concepts, a band whose name and logo represented anarchy itself, become involved in something so very cliche as a post-reunion lawsuit, we would all be foolish to forget that there is a reason Black Flag has had umpteen members since 1976 -- Greg Ginn, by most accounts, is an impossibly difficult individual to work with.
Of course, this sort of tension may well be a major part of what's required for penning such earth-moving music. But it's also a major part of the reason that there are enough Black Flag alumni out there to form two Black Flags and still have enough warm bodies scattered about the world to form a third.