Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: FLAG are Black Flag. We know, we know, there’s another band out there operating under than moniker, and you don’t see Henry Rollins in the photo above, and the name is different, but trust us, this is the most Black Flag version of Black Flag in existence, and real O.G. purists might even call them the most authentic lineup ever. Fronted by original vocalist and hardcore hero Keith Morris, FLAG are not a tribute, and technically not even a Black Flag reunion, but four of its five members carry original, authentic pedigree (the fifth is a Descendent), and play all of the early songs that helped blaze the trail for ’80s hardcore, cementing a base for the subsequent Rollins-led version of the band to become legendary. Along with hardcore feminist punk outfit War on Women and Canadian alt rock trio The Dirty Nil, the group will play Nashville for the first time tonight, July 5 at Exit/In! Tickets for what is sure to be an unforgettable show are still available right here while they last, so grab yours now and read on for details!
Two years ago, a band performing under the moniker of “Black Flag” played Nashville as part of a reunion run. While legally and technically Black Flag, that group, who also released an LP in 2013, the first “Black Flag” album since ’85, features only one original member, guitarist Greg Ginn. Better than nothing, mind you, but hardly Black Flag, and not exactly well-received by fans. The story of Black Flag is long and convoluted, but the short version is this: after their initial split in 1986, the the hardcore punk legends’ many, many members of varying degrees of importance went on to form and join countless other musical projects, with best-known and final frontman Henry Rollins garnering the greatest post-breakup success. In 2013, two versions of the band sprung back to life. The first, the aforementioned Greg Ginn-led Black Flag initially featured vocalist Ron Reyes, though the lineup has already managed to shuffle considerably, and now Mike Vallely commands the mic.
The other Black Flag, who, legally, are forced to go by FLAG are actually really legit, made up of Keith Morris (Black Flag’s original vocalist and founding member, who departed shortly before Rollins came into the fold, and later formed Circle Jerks), bassist Chuck Dukowski, drummer Bill Stevenson, and guitarist/vocalist Dez Cadena, all of whom appeared on the band’s most influential, early work, plus Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton, who first started kicking around with this crew in 2011, before they decided to make it a full-on reunion. Needless to say, FLAG are way more Black Flag than “Black Flag,” and, live, they’re performing nothing but the classics. After a well-received run of shows in 2013 (and working around the schedule of Morris-led hardcore supergroup OFF!), FLAG are back on the road again this summer, and will play Nashville for the first time ever. Short of a Rollins-era reunion (which is unlikely, though you can catch Henry’s spoken word show in town later this year), this is the most authentic Black Flag experience hardcore fans could hope for, and in a small room like Exit/In, you know it’s going to be wild.
WAR ON WOMEN
Co-ed, feminist, hardcore punk outfit War On Women hail from Baltimore, and hold no punches in ferociously tackling important social issues like rape culture, street harassment, the gender wage gap, transphobia, and more, all wrapped up in a heavy, contemporary, metal-tinged, in your face delivery. Formed in 2010, the band’s eponymous, full-length debut dropped last year on Bridge 9 Records, helmed by renowned punk producer J. Robbins. Vocalist Shawna Potter actually attended high school here in Nashville, so not only are the group a formidable match to support FLAG, but have local ties to boot.
THE DIRTY NIL
Canada’s The Dirty Nil are definitely the least hardcore band on the lineup, and they’d surely be the first to proudly admit it. Harboring elements of punk, garage rock, and ’90s-sounding grunge and alternative, the trio simply consider themselves to be loud, aggressive rock and roll, and that’s as apt a description as any. They’re well suited to get fists pumping, beer flowing, and crowds moving, and you won’t be disappointed if you show up early enough to see them.
FLAG, War on Women, and The Dirty Nil will perform tonight, July 5 at Exit/In. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available for $20-22.