Black Flag/Boy Sets Fire/Snuff/Bad Astronauts/Good for You/Off With Their Heads/Jughead’s Revenge
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Whether it was Sunday night syndrome, a steep ticket price or a not extremely well promoted event, upon entering Amps we were surprised the place wasn’t packed to full capacity. On a personal note – this reviewer has been listening and wanting to see Snuff and Black Flag for over a quarter of a century, and perhaps expectations were too high. However, the decision to move it to the smaller of two venues resulted in audiences getting to see some legendary bands up close, with the usual perfect sound.
To set the record straight, the true headliners were Boy Sets Fire. Most of the crowd were there to see them and they delivered. Walking a thin line between hardcore, melodic punk and alternative rock, Boy Sets Fire handled both performing and keeping an amazing live atmosphere, extremely well. The punters recognised the band’s genuinity and gave back one hundred percent.
Before BSF we had an opportunity to finally see a live set of severely underrated, yet truly amazing Snuff. With some technical difficulties delaying the start of their set, the anticipation in the audience ran high, and once the band took the stage it was mutual love for the next 40 minutes or so.
The beauty of Snuff lies in their ability to come up with these super catchy, almost soul-like numbers played in a punk style, which combines melody with high-energy into an aural fireball. Hearing it live, it only added a healthy dose of extra excitement and happiness all round.
With their opus running into hundreds of songs, both original and imaginative covers, it was impossible to hear everything you wanted. Somehow aired early, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads had the guy from Jughead’s Revenge on guest vocals, Do Nothing still sounds better than the original and Arsehole was a perfect ending to a perfect show. We surely now deserve to get a proper headline show for Snuff, even if it takes another 25 years!
Black Flag brought the festivities and the tour to an end. Their recent reformation and live shows have been poorly reviewed and all those phone cam videos suggest the band doesn’t come close to their legacy and expectations on the live front, and if you add Greg Ginn’s reputation on the top of that it seemed everything was set for a disaster, but instead we got a damn fine show.
The band worked well together, obviously previous shows in Australia helped them get tighter. Ron Reyes’ singing was in fine form and him and Greg Ginn carried the band. The rhythm section was good enough, despite the bass player almost ruining the opening lines of Six Pack. Ginn IS Black Flag and there was absolutely nothing wrong with his handling of guitar skills. Often looser than on the recordings, occasional turning into freakish/noisy territory, Greg Ginn still shows he owns that unique sound for which Black Flag were known for back in the day.
After an opening instrumental the band went into Revenge and in the next 45 minutes they proceeded to play most of the early songs they’re known for, some three to four songs off the new album and a blistering version of Black Coffee. The odd moment in an otherwise great show was when towards the end, Ron Reyes left the stage and the band proceeded to do Rise Above and Nervous Breakdown with guest vocalists, but not that they sounded bad or anything. What was even stranger was the addition of a trombonist and keys player from Snuff for the jam session they did as the closing song.
If Black Flag never broke up they would probably still sound like they do now. For a band that carries the burden of being one of the truly innovative bands of their times, this incarnation of Black Flag, at least judging by this show, have got nothing to be ashamed of – at least when it comes to performing live.