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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