4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Gonzo Report: Black Flag keeps waving nearly 50 years later

Mohawks, skinheads, longhairs, Doc Martens, and punk band T-shirts... But people were polite.

Mohawks, spikes, and patches: the best things in life stay that way.
Mohawks, spikes, and patches: the best things in life stay that way.

On October 28, there was a punk rock revival at the San Diego House of Blues, with Total Chaos opening for Black Flag. This article about that show may not be for the faint of heart. If you’re sensitive to vulgarity or violence, now is the time to stop reading.

Black Flag, the hardcore punk band that started the SoCal hardcore movement, formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach. Guitarist Greg Ginn is a founding — and the only original and constant — member of the band. There have been five singers: fellow founder Keith Morris, who went on to start the Circle Jerks; Ron Reyes, who walked off stage mid-performance during a May 23, 1980, show at the Fleetwood in Redondo Beach because he couldn’t handle the violence any more; Dez Cadena, who later became the band’s rhythm guitarist; Henry Rollins, whose stage presence was enough to make him something of a movie/television star; and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely. Vallely is friends with Ginn, and once took the mic from Reyes in 2003 after Reyes was ousted by the band mid-set. He became their official lead singer in 2014.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I recall discovering the hardcore scene when I was a teenager in the mid-‘80s. I was intrigued yet frightened: I liked the music, but the people were a different animal. Spiked hair, Mohawks and skinheads. They wore dirty, torn clothes, jackets sporting patches from bands like the Exploited, Misfits, and Subhumans. They lived in squalor, in their cars or in a closet somewhere. Besides the usual excessive amount of alcohol consumption, there was the snorting and shooting up of crystal meth and heroin. And the violence at the shows was just as much a part of the entertainment as the music. The girls were naughty, dirty, and down for a gang bang. That’s how I remember it, anyway. To get a fuller picture, maybe go onto Netflix or YouTube and watch The Decline of Western Civilization or Suburbia.

Fast forward to October 28. My friend and I got dumped off by our Lyft in front of the venue. We were hungry, and decided to grab a quick bite in the House of Blues Restaurant. A beer, a glass of Chardonnay, and a tri-tip sandwich cost us $30. The bartender was friendly and attentive. He let us know when the first band, Total Chaos, was starting. That was my cue to pay the bill and head next door to the concert hall. Once inside, the first thing I noticed was a bar to the right and a seated section overlooking the stage. We walked down three flights of stairs decorated with murals to the packed dungeon below. The place was perfect for a punk rock show: dark, cold, and cemented. Total Chaos was on the stage playing at a loud pace. The mosh pit below was filled with youngsters doing their best to uphold punk’s legacy by roughing each other up for fun. I headed to the bar in back where it was safe; a 24 oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon was the cheapest beer there at $12. That’s fucking punk rock. Drinking Chardonnay out of a can ($15 for 12 oz.) is even more punk rock. I saw people throwing their empty beer cans — at least I hope they were empty — into the pit, and joined in the fun. Total Chaos finished their set, which made for a suitable time to do some people watching. (Hip Hop music grooved in the background in between sets — at a punk show? How times have changed.) I still saw Mohawks, skinheads, longhairs, Doc Martens, and punk band T-shirts. But people were polite: gentle taps on the shoulder and “excuse me.” Earlier that week, I had gone to see Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. at Humphreys by the Bay. The people were ruder at that one. There was more pushing, no “excuse me,” and people trying to steal people’s seat spots. At least there were no personal dancing spaces at the Black Flag show. Etiquette becomes less of an issue in the pit; somebody’s always ready to cry “Fuck your dancing space!” and wreck you.

Greg Ginn was first on the stage. Singer Mike Vallely was the last. He started banging his head, and as the beat went from melodic to frenetic, so did the headbanging. The band started off with “Can’t Decide,” and played a lot of their classics: “Nervous Breakdown,” “Annihilate This Week” (per Setlist.fm, it was first time since 2014 for that one), “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie,” “Loose Nut”, “Six Pack,” a nice long version of “Slip it In,” their MTV classic “TV Party,” and finally, “Louie Louie.” As they held down the rhythm section, drummer Isaias Gil and bass player Joseph Noval sounded more professional than punk. Singer Vallely has his own lyrical style, but still sounded like past singers Keith Morris on “Nervous Breakdown” and Henry Rollins on “Louie Louie.” I cannot discount Greg Ginn’s interwoven riffs layering through the many measured beats.

I went into the pit for the last song, “Louie Louie.” It may have been a tamer pit than the ones I remembered from the ‘80s, but I still got blasted in the ribs by some dude and knocked off my feet. As I flew toward the crowd, he caught me mid-air and placed me gently back on the floor. He was like 6 foot 4. In this pit, it was the girls who were being aggressive, throwing elbows and punches. A little skinny girl with grey tank top was trying to knock me around. First, she threw elbows at me and knocked my hat off. Then she came back around and socked me in my lip. I thought, I have been in a few pits in my life before this girl was born. She came at me again, but this time I was waiting. I elbowed her in her face, knocked her into the crowd, and hopefully knocked her the fuck out. That’s punk rock for you.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Charles Crehore can't shut down his Facebook page

Broke with Mayor Bailey over open beaches during Covid
Mohawks, spikes, and patches: the best things in life stay that way.
Mohawks, spikes, and patches: the best things in life stay that way.

On October 28, there was a punk rock revival at the San Diego House of Blues, with Total Chaos opening for Black Flag. This article about that show may not be for the faint of heart. If you’re sensitive to vulgarity or violence, now is the time to stop reading.

Black Flag, the hardcore punk band that started the SoCal hardcore movement, formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach. Guitarist Greg Ginn is a founding — and the only original and constant — member of the band. There have been five singers: fellow founder Keith Morris, who went on to start the Circle Jerks; Ron Reyes, who walked off stage mid-performance during a May 23, 1980, show at the Fleetwood in Redondo Beach because he couldn’t handle the violence any more; Dez Cadena, who later became the band’s rhythm guitarist; Henry Rollins, whose stage presence was enough to make him something of a movie/television star; and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely. Vallely is friends with Ginn, and once took the mic from Reyes in 2003 after Reyes was ousted by the band mid-set. He became their official lead singer in 2014.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I recall discovering the hardcore scene when I was a teenager in the mid-‘80s. I was intrigued yet frightened: I liked the music, but the people were a different animal. Spiked hair, Mohawks and skinheads. They wore dirty, torn clothes, jackets sporting patches from bands like the Exploited, Misfits, and Subhumans. They lived in squalor, in their cars or in a closet somewhere. Besides the usual excessive amount of alcohol consumption, there was the snorting and shooting up of crystal meth and heroin. And the violence at the shows was just as much a part of the entertainment as the music. The girls were naughty, dirty, and down for a gang bang. That’s how I remember it, anyway. To get a fuller picture, maybe go onto Netflix or YouTube and watch The Decline of Western Civilization or Suburbia.

Fast forward to October 28. My friend and I got dumped off by our Lyft in front of the venue. We were hungry, and decided to grab a quick bite in the House of Blues Restaurant. A beer, a glass of Chardonnay, and a tri-tip sandwich cost us $30. The bartender was friendly and attentive. He let us know when the first band, Total Chaos, was starting. That was my cue to pay the bill and head next door to the concert hall. Once inside, the first thing I noticed was a bar to the right and a seated section overlooking the stage. We walked down three flights of stairs decorated with murals to the packed dungeon below. The place was perfect for a punk rock show: dark, cold, and cemented. Total Chaos was on the stage playing at a loud pace. The mosh pit below was filled with youngsters doing their best to uphold punk’s legacy by roughing each other up for fun. I headed to the bar in back where it was safe; a 24 oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon was the cheapest beer there at $12. That’s fucking punk rock. Drinking Chardonnay out of a can ($15 for 12 oz.) is even more punk rock. I saw people throwing their empty beer cans — at least I hope they were empty — into the pit, and joined in the fun. Total Chaos finished their set, which made for a suitable time to do some people watching. (Hip Hop music grooved in the background in between sets — at a punk show? How times have changed.) I still saw Mohawks, skinheads, longhairs, Doc Martens, and punk band T-shirts. But people were polite: gentle taps on the shoulder and “excuse me.” Earlier that week, I had gone to see Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. at Humphreys by the Bay. The people were ruder at that one. There was more pushing, no “excuse me,” and people trying to steal people’s seat spots. At least there were no personal dancing spaces at the Black Flag show. Etiquette becomes less of an issue in the pit; somebody’s always ready to cry “Fuck your dancing space!” and wreck you.

Greg Ginn was first on the stage. Singer Mike Vallely was the last. He started banging his head, and as the beat went from melodic to frenetic, so did the headbanging. The band started off with “Can’t Decide,” and played a lot of their classics: “Nervous Breakdown,” “Annihilate This Week” (per Setlist.fm, it was first time since 2014 for that one), “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie,” “Loose Nut”, “Six Pack,” a nice long version of “Slip it In,” their MTV classic “TV Party,” and finally, “Louie Louie.” As they held down the rhythm section, drummer Isaias Gil and bass player Joseph Noval sounded more professional than punk. Singer Vallely has his own lyrical style, but still sounded like past singers Keith Morris on “Nervous Breakdown” and Henry Rollins on “Louie Louie.” I cannot discount Greg Ginn’s interwoven riffs layering through the many measured beats.

I went into the pit for the last song, “Louie Louie.” It may have been a tamer pit than the ones I remembered from the ‘80s, but I still got blasted in the ribs by some dude and knocked off my feet. As I flew toward the crowd, he caught me mid-air and placed me gently back on the floor. He was like 6 foot 4. In this pit, it was the girls who were being aggressive, throwing elbows and punches. A little skinny girl with grey tank top was trying to knock me around. First, she threw elbows at me and knocked my hat off. Then she came back around and socked me in my lip. I thought, I have been in a few pits in my life before this girl was born. She came at me again, but this time I was waiting. I elbowed her in her face, knocked her into the crowd, and hopefully knocked her the fuck out. That’s punk rock for you.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Nicholas Leigh Hunt revisits the Grover Cleveland school shooting with new book

The “trial by media” notoriety kept growing with the Boomtown Rats’ song “I Don’t Like Mondays.”
Next Article

First Christian Church of Ramona: a season of Jesus’ teachings delivering packages for Amazon

It’s wonderful to know information about the Bible, but another thing to apply it.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close