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Black Flag – CODA – Toronto Live Review

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Black Flag – CODA – Toronto Live Review

Who: Black Flag
From: Originally Hermosa Beach, California, USA
Where: CODA
When: June 19th, 2014

Total Score: 9.8/10

Style: Hardcore Punk

It was a little shocking and somewhat disappointing that Black Flag were playing a relatively unknown and new venue, CODA (formerly The Annex WreckRoom with 80’s dance nights and members of Degrassi Street spinning, on those nights) because they deserved much better. With NXNE in full gear, it was also surprising that Black Flag were not a part of the festivities. Is it that Black Flag have been drudging along after a few lead singer turn-arounds? The audience, full of mostly white men in punk leather jackets, and a few women dressed skimpily, all waited with anticipation on how the new member, Mike Vallely (vocals) would perform, in contrast to Henri Rollins, for example.

The opening act was tight but not otherwise worth mentioning: a bunch of older punks with little to no sex appeal, and CODA sat empty. When asking the door lady, “what time is Black Flag on” she uttered, “10pm” and again there was a surprise: a punk band with the history and clout as Black Flag has, playing so early? What is going on? Is it that Gregg Ginn, the original member, guitarist, and lead writer…is just getting too old to play late? These assumptions turned out to be less than accurate and, in fact, completely wrong: once Black Flag went unto the stage, the room began to fill up — to a decent 65% – and shortly after mesmerized everyone. The first song had a few extended riffs and breaks and Vallely seemed to get his feet wet, but the second song, “Rise Above” was really performed well, and this is also when the audience started moshing, and continued religiously doing so throughout the show.

The hardcore punk continued for nearly an hour with little to no breaks. The moshing continued. Everyone was sweating, and smiling gleefully as though their punk fantasies had come to life. The most surreal moment was at the very end when they played a version of “Louis, Louis”, explaining that, they, “have to go now”, and Gregg Ginn passed off his clear and see-through (what was that a Fender?) guitar to Vallely, and jumped into the audience to mosh. No. Gregg definitely has not gotten too old to punk out, and the newest members, including Tyler Smith and Brandon Pertzborn are seriously tight… Tight enough to make any punk’s pants wet! Next time they come to Toronto, it would be nice to see them with a larger audience at a larger venue, as they deserve.

Written by: Rina Rosen