Revisiting Black Flag's My War And a Certain Show in Walla Walla

"Swimming in the mainstream, is such a lame dream."
Listened to Black Flag's My War again. I wrote about this seminal album a couple of years ago and need to stress again what an impact this work had on Grunge music.

We know that Grunge is a mix of old school heavy rock and punk. And that's where My War comes in - it's a bridge between heavy rock and punk. Grunge ran with this.

I need to define what I mean by Punk. It's the independent / underground ethic. Singer / lyricist Henry Rollins hits the nail on the head with his mainstream / lame dream statement.

But Black Flag tried to take their music to the masses and performed off the beaten path. This brings me to that Black Flag show in Walla Walla, Washington - August 22nd 1985.

I drove Buzz Osborn, Matt Lukin and another fellow from Aberdeen in my zebra striped VW van across the state to this concert. Buzz knew that this would be special and he was right. It was like we had the band to ourselves. This sounds intimate - but sometimes you better watch what you wish for. The gig was at this cavernous community center and there was maybe forty people there. The openers were SWA and Tom Troccoli's Dog. I thought SWA were pretty good. They were theatrical with singer Chuck Dukowski projecting a Clockwork Orange kind of image but still different than Alex and his drooges. I remember the music being kind of campy too.

Black Flag get on stage to slay the small crowd in the community center. Great set by a great band. I don't know what was said, but afterwards one of the bands roadies punched out this kid. You'd never see violence at NW punk shows. But this was LA Hardcore coming to the Northwest. I spoke to the kid and he was OK.

Black Flag were truly dangerous. It's heavy rock but in a messed up kind of way. You can't get too close, and the music doesn't want you to anyway.

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