with Lié, Vacant State, Piggy, and Good For You
@ Chinese Cultural Centre
July 20th, 2013
Black Flag, the Hermosa Beach punk group that formed in 1976, has garnered much notoriety and an almost-religious cult following over the years. Going into the concert, reporters from LotusLand did not know what to expect. It was, after all, the first time the band has come to Vancouver in almost thirty years. Black Flag has avoided this city in the past, with ex-lead singer Henry Rollins telling of a venue full of junkies that stole their equipment. Of course, the band have since changed their opinion, with Ron Reyes living here since he originally left Black Flag in 1980. Their July 20th show made for an exciting comeback, especially with an interesting venue choice in the Chinese Cultural Centre.
The night kicked off with a set from the local teenage post-punk act Lié. Even though they played the shortest set of the show, their set was one of the highlights of the night, due to the band’s “no bullshit” attitude. Their interesting take on gothic rock was enough to keep the very small crowd going, and a high bar was set for other bands to come. They were followed by another local punk band, Vacant State. Their fast playing matched with wailing guitars and loud belching vocals that were beyond comprehension (driving their fans to hardcore moshing and jumping on the stage) made them reminiscent of an early 80’s hardcore band. However, the venue’s large area and concrete walls didn’t do them much good. The sound was constantly bouncing off the walls, making the songs sound more like a sloppy mess than anything else. The next band to come on was yet another local punk band called Piggy. Style wise, they sounded like if you were to take Black Sabbath, replace Ozzy with an angry teenage girl, and made them sing hookless pop songs. The oversized concrete venue brought them the same problems as Vacant State, but unlike Vacant Stage (who would have played tightly if it weren’t for the walls), their playing was extremely sloppily to begin with, which mixed with the wall factor. At some parts it was difficult to tell whether they were playing a chorus or jamming on a solo. Greg Ginn’s band, Good For You followed with a 60 minute set.
With the alarming number of opening bands, Black Flag did not come on until 11:30 PM. After two sets of intense riffs and indiscernible lyrics, the audience had their eardrums worked to the max. Many audience members decided to go back to the lobby for a while to prevent ears from bleeding. Both the audio from the several amps that were stacked upon each other and the physicality of the mosh pit proved too much. As soon as Black Flag came on, exit doors were closed and the auditorium became packed. The crowd was ready. If you were tall enough, you could see an array of brightly coloured mohawks scattered around, the hairs shaking in anticipation. Although the concert was all ages, the majority of the crowd were older. Black Flag started their set with Revenge, a great song to pump up the audience with. Their setlist included hits such as Depression, Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie, and Rise Above. They proved that you’re never too old to play some hardcore punk in a shitty auditorium with a very drunk audience. The scent of cigarettes, alcohol and sweat mixed together added to the experience and even the music. The mosh pit was thriving; everyone acting like bumper cars, smashing into each other all a part of something bigger, positive punk vibes. An unspoken courtesy existed in the mosh: if anyone fell, not a second would pass before they would be helped back up. Their set ended with Louie Louie and a crowd who wasn’t ready to part.
By Charles Fretier-Gauvin, Mahtab Laghaei and Cynthia Ho