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Black Flag in Seattle

Black Flag in Seattle
January 04, 2024 12:00PM
A lot of music lovers I've met in WA put down El Corazón. The place often gets derided as "El Crapazón." But me, I dig the place. Sure, it's a dump, but so what? Most rock 'n' roll clubs are. (They certainly don't thrive in "nice" neighborhoods.) As the site of the first concert I saw in Seattle (Glen Matlock + Hugh Cornwell, 2012), it'll probably always hold a soft spot in my heart. It actually reminds me to no end of the Black Sheep, a rock 'n' roll dump that we used to frequent in Colorado Springs. And the place has good beers on tap. What more could I ask?

Greg Ginn has surely been booked at far worse places than El Corazón, in his long, storied career. The place was an ideal setting for Black Flag last night. Certainly, a lot of music lovers must have thought so; the line to get in was stretched around the block. And it was a surprisingly diverse crowd, in terms of age. In fact, it was shockingly skewed toward the younger set! From what I could see, most of the fans in attendance were born after Henry Rollins left the band. Like, long after Henry left. (It was an all-ages show.)

On this tour, Flag is performing My War in its entirety, followed by a set of fan favorites. From the opening of "My War," the crowd seemed almost choreographed. Everyone was bouncing up & down in tense anticipation as the band played that tense extended intro ... and then Mike Vallely screamed into the mic, "Myyy WAR!!" and the floor erupted into sheer mosh-mania! It's been a long time since I've stood at the edge of a mosh pit as intense as that one.

The crowd continued to slam-dance like mad during the first six songs of My War, slowing it down to "shove-dancing" during the slower Side Two songs. Then, after an intermission, the quartet came out to perform its "hits" set ... and the frenzy on the floor exceeded what I'd witnessed already. During "Slip It In" and "TV Party," it almost looked as if there were more crowd-surfers than crowd! (And I saw at least one of those surfers take a nasty-looking fall. Three people had to carry her out of the pit to safety.) At one point, standing at the perimeter of the mosh zone, I was getting into it, leaning forward and playing air guitar and singing along ... and the guy next to me, a stocky Hispanic dude, was watching me and grinning, yelling, "Yeah, baby, rock out! Yeah!" Until one of the crowd-surfers fell, and he suddenly yelled "Oh shit!" and ran into the pit. That's when I noticed SECURITY on the back of his jacket.

An intense, heavy-duty night. And to those who might bag on this version of Black Flag as a nostalgia act, I'd say, get a ticket and see 'em before you make that assessment. By now, Mike Vallely has been fronting the band longer than Rollins did. He brings an intense, thoroughly into-it vibe ... although not as malevolent, perhaps, as Rollins could be. (But honestly, what band really wants a singer who jumps into the crowd to punch people?) The rhythm section sounded great, and Ginn's guitar solos are as "horribly misshapen" as ever. Check 'em out.

My War
Can't Decide
Beat My Head Against the Wall
I Love You
Forever Time
The Swinging Man
Nothing Left Inside
Three Nights
Nervous Breakdown
Fix Me
I've Had It
Jealous Again
No Values
Black Coffee
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
Six Pack
Slip It In
I Can See You
Room 13
TV Party
Rise Above

Louie Louie

No opening act.
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