Photos + Review: Total Chaos and Black Flag @ House Of Blues (San Diego, CA)
one often wonders what happens to a band when the original lineup changes. well sometimes their catalog is so epic the band just keeps on soaring.
I have to say I wasn’t quite sure what to expect tonight. I had never seen Black Flag live and because all the line up changes they endured throughout the years, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I was worried I’d be disappointed. Their music accompanied a large portion of my adolescence and beyond. I didn’t want their legacy ruined in any way. I had seen amazing recordings of their live shows and for years I had lived vicariously through them. But you know, curiosity is a monster of its own right, and due to the current political tension, the time felt perfect to experience their music first hand. Especially with Total Chaos opening.
I can’t recall the last time I saw the House of Blues so jam packed. I got there 45 minutes before the doors opened and there already was a line. 20 minutes before Total Chaos hit the stage, there wasn’t any wiggle room. With the crowd spanning three generation of punk fans, all equally excited to see both Total Chaos and Black Flag, I was sure in for a magical night!
There was a father celebrating his son’s 18th birthday by taking him to his first punk show. I met a couple that was following the entire tour. I also met a grandfather that brought his daughter and grandson. How cool is that?! Gotta set them on the right path young ;)!
Total Chaos took the stage and the already high energy in the room reached a whole new level of intensity. They are SoCal punk legends in their own right! Every time I have seen them live they just draw you in for the entirety of their set. Their on stage chemistry among them is second to none, they are definitely veterans and it shows.
The band took stage and no one stopped stomping from beginning to end. They masterfully guided the audience to an amazing visceral performance that allowed everyone to tune out the outside world or perhaps tune into it further with songs that could have been written today. Songs like, “Babylon”, “Police Rat,” “End Of White Supremacy,” and “Kill The Nazis” among others. It is apparent that while great music never goes out of style, unfortunately neither does the hate it speaks against.
After a minimal stage setup, it was time for Black Flag to play. Their current line up consists of Harley Duggan on bass, Greg Ginn on guitar, Mike Valley on vocals, and Charles Wiley on drums. The band took to a dark stage heavily accompanied by the moodiness of the fog machine. A quick moment of silence for dramatic effect that was immediately interrupted by the explosive crescendo of fans steadily screaming “Black Flag, Black Flag, Black Flag.” A chant that grew louder alongside my expectations which I am relieved to say they were met far beyond what I could have imagined.
And I think it was a combination of everything. The band sounded amazing, Mike Vallely’s vocals were a power punch to the soul, Ginn’s guitar riffs were of iconic familiarity to everyone, the drums were heavy enough to pound your skull, and the bass lines deep enough to ripple from within.You take all of that and put in in a jam-packed room with fans that relentlessly sang every word perfectly alongside the band.
You are left with an unforgettable night that elevated an already historic catalog to new heights. I have been going to shows regularly since I turned 14 -a lifetime to two ago, and I have never seen anything like this. A truly unforgettable night! I ‘m looking forward to catching both bands live again soon!
Black Flag Setlist:
I’ve Have It
Annihilate This Week (First time since 2014)
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
Split It In
I Can See You
Louie Louie (Richard Berry cover)