Black Flag at the Triple Rock, 6/15/14
|Mike Vallely of Black Flag|
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Punk rock certainly needed Black Flag, but does it need two different bands playing Black Flag material in 2014?
Last night at the Triple Rock, establishing and sole continuous band member Greg Ginn tackled these important questions by leading his current incarnation of Black Flag through a blistering 22-song set, though only after subjecting us to perhaps one of the weirdest musical side project of any living punk rock legend: Greg Ginn and the Royal We.
|Ev Gold of Cinema Cinema|
Cinema Cinema started off the night when Hor, the other opening band, decided not to show up. An audience member was overheard enthusiastically describing Cinema Cinema as sounding like a combination of Pantera, Clutch and Rush, which is actually somewhat of an accurate description. They plunged through a set of songs tinged with influences of stoner and doom metal as the room filled with the scent of marijuana pouring forth from the mystery of backstage.
It's possible that the weed smell was Ginn preparing for his set as Greg Ginn and the Royal We -- a band made of just one person yet so seemingly schizophrenic in nature that the "We" in its name is a necessary preface.
|Greg Ginn and The Royal We|
Ginn's "Royal We" project was probably the most confusing thing that could have happened to all of the punx in attendance. The concept itself seemed interesting enough, but everything else about it was awkward, alienating and poorly executed. At times, it felt like a joke.
"This is hella wack, dude," commented a man in the audience. "I think all that money he won in court just went to his head." Last summer, Ginn sued the members of Flag for performing Black Flag songs and for using the iconic Black Flag bars logo. Initially, a judge ruled against Ginn's claims. Yet just a couple of month's ago, Ginn claimed to have reached a settlement agreement -- probably what that audience member was referencing.
For the duration of the set, Ginn had propped up a television on a table next to his set up of an Apple laptop, various plug-ins to his guitar and a theremin. Yes, a theremin. As a driving, droning prerecorded industrial backing track emerged from the lap top, Ginn kept his eyes shut tight, leaning precariously and moving his head passionately side to side with the beat as he harshly plucked his guitar in what sounded like a misguided attempt at psychedelia. Every so often he would wave one hand in front of the theremin, as if playing shadow puppets.
All the while, the television was displaying various scenes of women dancing, odd images if people performing rituals, and finally images of war and of disasters like the Hindenburg. The television seemed oddly out of place. Every element felt out of place. There was no sort of cohesion in anything. The audience seemed angry. A couple of heads nodded here and there, but primarily people just looked forlorn and confused. It didn't even seem as if the set was practiced -- it would have been no surprise had we learned that everything was actually improvised.
When it was all over, people were visibly relieved. It was clear that everyone just wanted to get on with it and watch Black Flag perform. It seemed unfair that Ginn had forced us all to sit through his bizarre solo act as if we had to prove that we really deserved to see Black Flag.