Black Flag - The Observatory - July 12, 2013

Chad Sengstock
Black Flag
The Observatory

Black Flag, or Flag, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, played at the Observatory for their first show in Southern California. To be honest, after witnessing the first performance of the two-night stint in Santa Ana, I have a new name for them, Diva Flag. For starters, unlike most shows I've been to at the Observatory, there didn't seem to be a show schedule posted anywhere showing what time the legendary headliner would go on. This was something that even the crowd was unhappy about.

There were about five two unlisted bands that played; none of them were worth listening too. I had sat outside for those bands and there was not at all a lull in the amount of people outside taking a smoke break--a crowd of old school punks, metal heads and a few hipsters. The most popular question around was "What time is Black Flag going on tonight?" In fact there was a lot of muttering of "Why are all of these bands going on before them?" "Why would they even pick bands like this to open for them?"

So at 11 p.m. I walked in to try and find a spot to watch the punk legends perform. The top and the bottom were full of people and the room smelled of Pabst Blue Ribbon vomit and the air was suffocatingly hot. I had asked the bartender for a cup of water to deal with the heat and the smell and they denied me. This by the way is illegal in the state of California; instead he tried to sell me a crappy bottle of water. I finally found a spot that I could kind of see them and at 11:30 p.m. they had finally gone on.

They started the show with the song "Revenge." Before the song has even really started Greg Ginn began banging out a few opening chords to get the crowd going, which didn't take much considering how excited people were to finally see the band they'd been waiting almost five hours for. However, the energy that was going on was just sad. They didn't seem like they even cared that they were performing for a large crowd who has been dying to see them for so long. It just seemed lazy and as if it was mandatory for them to be there because they were promoting their new music.

Sure they played songs like "6 Pack," and "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie," but their demeanor on stage was just disappointing. The only redeeming quality was the fact that in the room they sounded pretty okay. If you were to walk to get merch in the next room or go to the path room the sound was lost. In that venue I have been able to hear Corrosion of Conformity and Napalm Death all the way to the smoking patio but that was not the cause with Diva Flag.

Unfortunately, despite my admiration for everything the band accomplished during its heyday, I would never see them again. This was as bad as seeing the Misfits at Ink-N-Iron 2012. It was pure disappointment.

The Crowd: Young kids, mid-20, middle age punks, metal heads, and a very strange array of hipsters with their nose in the air.

Quote from the Crowd:"These people will stay as long as they need too to see Black Flag but this is not ok, why are they playing so many bands before them? Over compensation."

Personal Bias: I don't care if you live the "punk life," yelling out in the middle of a crowd that you hate feminism and that you bought your first vibrator today is not classy. In fact, without feminism you would not be able to yell such things. Come on ladies, you want to be treated like a lady, act like a lady.

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The writer sure needs to educate himself about grammar, his subject, and cultural references. "Too" means "also," buddy.

Next, "Black Flag, or Flag, or whatever they are calling themselves these days..." Flag is a band with Keith Morris (original Black Flag vocalist) and other former members of Black Flag. Black Flag and Flag are two different bands. You wouldn't say "Bad Brains or Bad Religion, or something..." so why the idiocy here? Because you obviously don't know or care about your subject.

Finally, learn about feminism. Feminism doesn't have anything to do with free speech. Second, doesn't a girl have the right to say she hates feminism? Are you disallowing her the freedom to express herself? And by saying you don't care about the "punk life" also demonstrates that you know nothing about it... this is actually quite a paradox, though, since the punk who yelled it doesn't give a flying fuck about a) being classy or b) what you or anyone else thought at the time. You're again using your values as a basis for how other people should act.

Terrible writing, terrible perspective. OC Weekly, I hope you didn't pay this clown to write this.


Wow.  What lazy journalism.  "Black Flag, or Flag, or whatever they are calling themselves these days.."   Um, it's Black Flag.  Read your ticket.  Greg Ginn owns the name and is the only member who was in every incarnation of the band.  

Other ingenious tidbits: "go to the path [sic] room", "they sounded pretty okay." 

 This "review" sounded more like an indictment of the club than the band.  


I can also confirm that on the first night (7/12/13) there were not 5 opening bands (though it felt like it).  There were two, O Zorn and Good For You.  Good For You was the same band that played as Black Flag but with different singer.  If one of the things you like about punk is the short and fast songs than Good For You was the opposite of short and fast.  Many songs seemed to go on and on like a Grateful Dead jam session.

The good part was when Black Flag finally hit the stage was when they played the old stuff.  The bad was the new stuff...much like like the GFY songs...long and meandering.

Also worth mentioning is the merch table was not the normal raping of the fans with $25 t-shirts which is the norm (at the least) for headliners these days.  They had about 6 different shirt designs and all $10 each.  Plus a good selection of BF on vinyl also only $10 each. 

Jeff Babiak
Jeff Babiak

The show was bad. Along with a DJ spinning punk rock records (not needed) There were two bands that opened up, not 5, but it sure seemed like it. These band were so not for this show. One of them was Greg Ginn's band but it was horrible. By the time BF took the stage everyone was so burned out from the opening crap. Sure Black Flag did play some favorites but their new shit was just not good. If you want to see "Black Flag" see "Flag" I saw them at PRB in Vegas and they kicked ass.

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