Black Flag Grind Out Some Noise at The Oriental Theater with “My War”

Black Flag Grind Out Some Noise at The Oriental Theater with “My War”

March 13, 2024 Off By Denver Thread

Photos: Oliver Thieme

An incomprehensibly youthful-acting Greg Ginn led his seminal hardcore punk rock band Black Flag through a set at The Oriental Theater last Saturday, stopping in the classic North Denver venue on their endless and relentless touring schedule. This time the current version of the band – featuring Ginn and vocalist Mike Vallely, and drum-and-bass duo Charles Wiley and Harley Duggan (from Darkhorse Rising).

Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
Black Flag brought gritty punk rock back to The Oriental (Photo: Oliver Thieme)
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With all the spirit of DIY and do-or-die that seems to be a foundation of US hardcore, Black Flag has always exemplified the “iron horse” tour ethos – doggedly hitting nearly any venue that will have them, playing their unique brand of sludge-meets-speed, sloppy but brilliantly passionate punk rock. At this point, touring in celebration of the 1984 full length  “My War,” it seems like the road and their prolificacy may be taking some toll. 

Like the “My War” record itself, the excitement tended to get lost in the darkness, and in a slower, heavier, sludgier Black Flag sound.

It could be that “My War,” the band’s fifth record (officially the third full-length collection of tunes released by various lineups of the band, after the “Nervous Breakdown” and “Jealous Again” EPs) is just not a very good record. This show, though, featured more of the sludge and slow howling that meanders through the Black Flag catalog than the more representative speed and (often scintillating) social commentary. 

Like the “My War” record itself, the excitement tended to get lost in the darkness, and in the slower, heavier, sludgier later-years Black Flag sound, and Vallely’s growling. Even the nicely-packed pit didn’t seem to reach the excited, virulent, agitation that a Black Flag show should inspire, and has so many times in their history.

After seeming to rush through the album, the band broke for a while and came back to play a few of their classics (including “Jealous Again,” “Nervous Breakdown,” “Slip It In,” “Wasted,” and many others) that did rejuvenate the place a little, but the mosh pit never really reached a fever pitch. 

There was a puppet in the crowd hilariously – and quite appropriately – mimicking the knife-wielding, conspicuously Hitler-coiffed puppet from the famous album cover. That puppet may have been the person that enjoyed the show the most.

Threader