The Coolest Thing: Mayhem Inside a Black Flag Concert

by Steve Spohn
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Black_Flag_in_performance_(1984)

Black Flag in ’84: Greg Ginn, Henry Rollins, Kira Roessler (l to r)

“The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week” features the ferocious, convulsing energy unleashed inside a Black Flag gig at L.A.’s Olympic Auditorium in 1982. This is exactly the kind of riotous live performance that made Black Flag a pioneering force behind America’s hardcore punk scene.

The raw fan-shot footage (below) reveals a band-audience combustion that sends lightning strikes of mayhem snaking through the crowd, like a lit fuse sizzles toward explosion. It’s a sight to behold, a glimpse at the nonconformist rebellion that attracted legions of loyal followers in the late-’70s and early-’80s.

BlackFlagFoot-stomping fans delight in unfettered access to the stage, weaving wildly between band members and then hurtling themselves back into the surging crowd. If it wasn’t for the instruments and Henry Rollins’ mic, you couldn’t tell the audience from the band.

Without further ado, here’s Black Flag on July 17, 1982, setting fire to “Depression,” an original song that highlights the band’s embrace of social isolation and neurosis.

Right here, all by myself,
I ain’t got no one else,
The situation is bleeding me,
There’s no relief for a person like me…

(The YouTube video is labeled incorrectly as being from Santa Monica, 1983 when in fact it’s from the Olympic Auditorium, 1982.)

The Black Flag lineup in the footage is Greg Ginn (guitar), Henry Rollins (vocals), Dez Cadena (guitar), Chuck Dukowski (bass) and Chuck Biscuits (drums).

Read more on Black Flag here.

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