Black Flag - Club Red, Tempe - 7/11/13

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The theremin is not a punk rock instrument. Having a punk musician who's been in the industry for over three decades play a theremin in one of the world's most iconic punk bands is a pretty bold move. One could argue that it's the punkest thing Greg Ginn could have done last night, alongside his drummer, who lay on the floor and kicked his feet in the air to stretch before Good for You's set. But who am I to say what is or isn't punk rock? Henry Rollins' long hair, shorts, and neurotic stage presence confused the hell out of people at first but helped redefine the rules.

But after 30-some years, there's no reinventing the wheel of punk music. The genre still has its weird twists and turns, spawning strange subgenres that bands like Attack! Attack! belong to, but the ethos is still there, for the most part. Even though Thursday night's band played a slew of Black Flag songs, and half-consisted of original members, it didn't quite feel like a true Black Flag show. The band released the entirety of its albums before I was born, but after seeing FLAG, the other Black Flag reunion act at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas a couple months ago, Greg Ginn's lineup fell short by a wide margin.

My biases are clear, but I tried to make the most of the show regardless. I bounced ideas off a friend who'd bought a $40 ticket without hesitation simply because he could say he's had the experience of seeing Black Flag. He said it was worth it just for that, but when asked if he would pay the same amount to see them again, he hesitated. He said a better venue and lower ticket prices would help, but otherwise he had a pretty good time.

By the looks of things, a decent chunk of the crowd had a good time, too. The circle pit got fairly large during "Six Pack," even if it quickly lost momentum -- though it was a weeknight, and I'm sure most fans had to get up early for work today. Fists were thrown in the air at key moments, though some of the band's most iconic work fell flat. Musically, Black Flag sounded okay for the most part. A tempo was off here and there, but the main issue is that Ron Reyes is not Keith Morris, Henry Rollins, or Dez Cadena.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum