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

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Black Flag had a revolving door of a lineup for its entire existence, so there really is no such thing as a singer who defined the band's sound. Some love to argue Rollins, while others favor Morris, which is the beauty of listening to Black Flag records. There's a noticeable progression from record to record, and songs like "TV Party" work best when everyone jumps in. Any Black Flag reunion is bound to sound like a tribute band at times, which makes authenticity and stage presence crucial.

Ron Reyes was entertaining enough to watch. He interacted well with the crowd and stuck around to meet fans after the show, but he didn't really do anything to make the show stick out. Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, and Dez Cadena have a presence that can't be matched -- one that sticks around for months.

Reyes seemed to lack enthusiasm. Fan favorites like "Wasted" and "Gimme Gimme Gimme" fell flat, and the sentiments seemed to get worse as the show progressed. The opening guitar riff of "Rise Above" sounded like a high school tribute band was playing it, as Reyes emotionlessly got through the lyrics.

The show also included songs that were unnecessarily long, such as the band's new single, "Down in the Dirt." The song includes a prolonged instrumental break with lots of theremin, a trick that worked better for opening act, Good for You, which had the exact same lineup as Black Flag, with pro skater Mike Vallely on vocals instead of Ron Reyes.

Both bands had a lengthy jam session upon taking the stage that sounded nothing like Black Flag or punk, in general. It seemed like a waste of time when Black Flag could have quickly played a song such as "Wasted" or "Fix Me" to get things going.

After being blown away by FLAG's performance, Black Flag was lackluster by comparison. Last night's show lacked energy and felt more like The Misfits' desperate attempts to keep touring, even though the majority of the band has been replaced. I'm sure it was nice for fans to see some version of Black Flag for the first time, but if you didn't make it to last night's show, I say you're better off waiting for FLAG to come to town. Check out page three for more photos, a video, the setlist, and the critic's notebook.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum