Where: The Blue Note
Ticket cost: $20
Think about the 80’s. What do you think about? Neon makeup, hairspray, scrunchies, and The Cure. Oh, and Reaganomics. But, thankfully, there was a counterculture created in response to all the blandness and normality of the era – Punk.
Black Flag is the ultimate representation of the glorious 80’s punk scene. They were an inspiration to nearly every punk band that came after them. If you like Fugazi, Butthole Surfers, Minor Threat, The Minutemen, you can thank Black Flag.
I know you all see those Black Flag t-shirts on tons of celebrities and secretly ask yourself who the hell they are and why everyone likes them so much, so listen up because I’m going to give you a little music history lesson.
Black Flag grew up in Hermosa Beach, California (not far from Los Angeles), which happened to be one of the most boring, plain, basic areas of the country. It was the era of glamour rock – Loverboy, The Cure, and lots of other English bands that made being a rockstar seem unattainable. But soon enough, the members of Black Flag discovered musicians like The Ramones and The Clash who were more accessible to them and started making their own music inspired by these bands.
At first, they faced lots of opposition considering none of the straight edges who ran the music venues back then wanted to host a punk band. But after much persistence on the part of Black Flag and the growing popularity of punk, some venues gave in, sometimes at their own peril.
A Black Flag live show in the 80’s was probably one of the most adrenaline-pumping experiences you could have. Lead singer Henry Rollins would consistently get in fist fights with people in the audience just because they annoyed him and that was what punk was all about. He had a macho persona that you would never expect from the lead singer of a band today and the aggressiveness of their songs just brought it out more. Below is a video of the band performing “Rise Above” in what must have been the mid-1980s.
So, there you go. Next time you see someone with the iconic symbol of Black Flag on their t-shirt, you’ll know what it means.
Even though Rollins left Black Flag a long time ago and has continued to do some solo stuff, they reunited the band last year and will be touring with their new frontman, Mike Vallely.
This post was written by Chantelle Moghadam, contributing writer for The Blue Note.