Published on August 16th, 2013


Imagine U2 without Bono. The Smiths without Morrissey. Jandek without the Jandek guy. The thought of Black Flag without its charismatic frontman, Henry Rollins, might sound just as blasphemous, until you remember that Black Flag existed for a good five years of admittedly penniless toil before Rollins jumped onstage at a Washington, DC gig in 1981 and catapulted the band’s trailblazing hardcore formula. And so it is now, with Rollins having long abandoned sweaty punk clubs for the curtained theaters of the spoken-word circuit, that Black Flag again exists without its short-shorted, angry-as-upset-hornets vocalist. In fact, the lineup has come somewhat full circle, with founding member and eclectic shredder Greg Ginn joining one of its original singers, Ron Reyes, on Black Flag’s 2013 reunion tour, picking up right where 1986 left off. At 59, Ginn still doesn’t miss a beat, and Reyes has proved perfectly capable of filling the intimidating shoes he once donned. Set lists have included new, as-yet-unreleased songs that fans dutifully tolerate, as well as more than a dozen fist-pumping, slam-dancing, blood-pressure-rising classics of three-chord fury and caustic satire. The band has even been reviving its rousing “Louie Louie” cover from the early years.

The demand has been high for this tour, and why shouldn’t it be? Punk might not be the cutting edge of youth music that it was in the early ‘80s, but the political context is ripe for its re-emergence. Many of the issues Black Flag’s populist music addressed in the Reagan Era – dissent, poverty, paranoia, police brutality and revolution – have become just as relevant under a “Democratic” president here in the Aughts. Might their comeback album have something to say about the Orwellian surveillance state in which we find ourselves ensnared? Times change, and so do frontmen, but punk remains the sonic pulse of protest. Come early for opening act Good For You, Ginn’s molten hardcore throwback with skateboarder/musician Mike Vallely.

The frivolity begins at 8 pm September 7 at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $22. Call 305-377-2277 or visit
~John Thomason