Robert Kenney

What does the band Black Flag, above, think of the band Flag? Let's just say that Black Flag's statement isn't very flattering.

Dual versions of punk's Black Flag: One is coming to Sacramento

Published: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 9TICKET
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 10:01 am

Two bands, one flag.

That would be Black Flag, the Southern California band behind such punk anthems as "Rise Above," "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and "TV Party."

There are two groups flying similar banners: One group, led by Black Flag guitarist and founder Greg Ginn, performs Monday at Ace of Spades as Black Flag. The singularly named Flag, featuring former Black Flag members, also has toured the country this year.

Some might argue that without Ginn, no band can properly call itself Black Flag. He has been the only constant member since Black Flag's founding in 1976, serving as primary songwriter and forging its unrelenting work ethic.

The current version of Black Flag also features Ron Reyes, the group's second singer.

Flag, however, features original Black Flag singer and co-founder Keith Morris. He's joined in Flag by former Black Flag members Chuck Dukowski on bass, drummer Bill Stevenson and singer-guitarist Dez Cadena.

These dual versions of Black Flag put punk rock purists in a bit of a quandary about which group can claim the most credibility.

"Oh man, it's such a tough call," said Danny Reynoso, better known as Danny Secretion from the Sacramento punk band the Secretions. "They both have members that were super-important to the history of the band. They brought an aggression that was unseen up until that point. They're influential with so many bands today."

The group broke up in 1986, and all was quiet on the Black Flag front until a reunion for two shows in 2003. Fast forward to 2013 and two Black Flag bands are inspiring mosh pits at a club near you.

Like other legacy musical acts, it's not uncommon to find a band competing on the concert trail with its own spinoff group. The phenomenon is especially prevalent with classic rock bands. Think: The Animals vs. Eric Burdon and the Animals, or Jefferson Starship and, simply, Starship.

The Beach Boys have seen up to three iterations of the band touring at once. In 2000, the namesake Beach Boys, Al Jardine's Family & Friends Beach Band (led by co-founder Al Jardine), and a Brian Wilson-fronted re-creation of the Beach Boys' seminal "Pet Sounds" album, all toured in 2000.

In a more recent example, former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland hit the road for a "Purple at the Core" tour, the name referencing a popular Stone Temple Pilots album. The official Stone Temple Pilots have a September tour planned with Chester Bennington, their new lead singer. Weiland and his former bandmates are suing one another, in large part over use of the band's name.

Use of an official band name, after all, means more money on the concert circuit.

"It makes a huge difference in the drawing power," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a publication that tracks the concert industry. "Page-Plant did good business when they toured, but it wasn't Led Zeppelin-style business. A lot of times artists will form a partnership that governs the use of a name. This is especially true when there's more than one leader of a group."

In the case of Black Flag, Ginn owns the name. As for talking about the state of the band and its name, Black Flag has a no-interview policy. The members are still too punk rock to talk to the press.

Either way, punk bands haven't dealt so much with a group and its spinoff touring simultaneously. The legendary Bay Area band Dead Kennedys briefly featured an offshoot called DK Kennedys. English punkers the Damned have also spawned two groups with competing lineups.

In terms of 2 Tone ska, the punked-up interpretation of Jamaican music made popular in the late 1970s, having two versions of the same band is nearly standard. The English Beat has multiple iterations. The Selecter, another popular ska band, has split into the Selecter and Neol Davies a.k.a. the Selecter.

Band spinoffs often coexist peacefully. But with Black Flag, there have been fighting words. A post about a free new song on declares: "(N)ot to be confused with the 'fake' Flag band currently covering the songs of BLACK FLAG in an embarrassingly weak 'mailing it in' fashion."

The group claiming some or all of the name Black Flag will surely throw a breakneck show, given the thrashy attitude and warp-speed tempos of the songs.

For now, Secretion leans toward the official Black Flag lineup as the favorite of the two.

"It's hard for me to pick a side, but right now, (the score) is Black Flag, one, and Flag, zero," said Secretion. "That's because Black Flag chose to come to Sacramento. I'm calling out Flag. Let them come to Sacramento so we can pick."


When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Ace of Spades, 1417 R St., Sacramento

Cost: $20, plus service fees


Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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