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October 16, 1984 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-16

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 16, 1984

Page 5

Black Flag's bassist Kira, vocalist Henry Rollins, guitarist Greg Ginn, and drummer Bill Stevenson
brought their unique style to Detroit's Madison Theater Friday night.
Black' Flag: Unclassified

By Hobey Echlin

p A SHOW combining past with
resent, improvisation with structure
fast with slow, and raw energy with
refined talent, Black Flag awed the 750 +
crowd at the Madison Theatre in
Detroit last Friday night.
Their hour and a half set, including
two encores, drew material ranging
from the Nervous Breakdown E.P to
the new Slip It In L.P., and from every
release in between.
This varied set exemplifies what may
be the most dynamic underground
music since the Doors. As Greg Ginn,
30-year-old founder/guitarist/writer of
Black Flag, explained, each song is a
separate, individual piece of an ab-
stract message that is Black Flag. The
message? Well, if anybody knew that
answer, the very reason for Black
Flag's existence, to form that message,
would cease to exist.
And how does Black Flag get their
message across? By embodying human
experience, emotion, and images into
intense rhythms, as varied as the
elements of humanity they represent,
where the common denominator is
energy. The band sees an emotion and
puts it into Black Flag terms, exponen-
tiating it for the listener. Whether the
straightforward vengeance of
"Revenge" of the abstract perception
"Rat's Eyes," Black Flag com-
pletely materializes their subject with
musical energy.
They are a kindof warped mirror of
society. In speaking with Henry
Rollins, lyricist/writer/poet of Black
Flag, I. found an intense interest in.
human experience, and emotion,
sometimes approaching the acabre.
Consider the tales of the October 8 Lin-
coln, Nebraska show where following
the concert, Henry found the location of
$ local shotgun, suicide. After reflecting
on the scene and events leading up to
the suicide, Henry managed to retrieve
a piece of the victim's brain lying amid
the blood-haloed wall.
AINN
ARBOR.
5th Avenue at liberty St
761-970 ...... ......

A gruesome momento yet at the same
time a disturbing reminder of the harsh
realities and extremes of human
emotion and experience.
For Black Flag, this harshness is
very real, as real as Henry's tattooes,
ranging from the back traversing
"SEARCH AND DESTROY" to the
ominous bars of the Black Flag logo
that materialize Henry's deep
emotional states.
The songs speak (or rather scream)
as do the tatooes: "My War," "Nervous
Breakdown," "Jealous Again," "Rise
Above," and "Depression." Each are
distinct yet unified reminders of an in-
tensely emotional world in which Black
Flag exists. Whether the savage
ferocity of "Room 13" or the dirge and
churn of "Rats Eyes," or even the
poetry-laden depth of "Louie, Louie,"
each song goes toward making up
Black Flag.
The lyrical intensity of the show
was balanced by the musical talent of
the band. Bill Stevenson (of Descen-
dant's fame notoriety) showed both
speed and versatility on drums and
Kira, a UCLA upperclassman, with her
consistent bass lines offsetting the
varying and sometimes im-
provisational rhythms and solos of
Ginn's distorted guitar.
The show opened with the im-

provisational band, Tom Trocolli's
Dog, featuring Black Flag soundman
Dav-O (of Nig Heist notoriety) on
drums, with Ginn on bass and Trocolli
with guitar and vocals, in and inspired
set. Saccharine trust followed with a set
featuring distortion-laden guitar amid
chaotic vocals and steady bass and
drum lines, drawing material from
their Pagan Icons E.P. and their Sur-
viving You, Always L.P., as well as
some new material.
The only damper on this fine SST
production was the lame cliche-ridden
crowd. Ranging from neato, neo-
skinheads, to the scary-eye-makeup of
Misfits clones, these pseudo-punk rock
identity crises insisted on stage diving
despite Henry's sarcastic pleas and
despite nifty kicks to the teeth and
shoving by joker-clad bouncers. These
slap/spank (but definitely not slam) -
dancing 'rams just couldn't see the
light.
Expect Black Flag again around
Christmas as well as a new album
Family Man, featuring one side of
Henry's poetry spoken and the other
Black Flag instrumental. Henry even
hopes to book a spoken-word tour of his
poetry, sometime after January. But
until then, keep a Black Flag waving in
your mind in the contorted wind of
society into a fluttering of intense
reality.

Records
Aztec Camera - Knife (Sire)
When Scottish songwriter Roddy
Frame and Aztec Camera released
their debut album High Land, Hard
Rain, it was one of the most refreshing
breafhs of fresh air in pop music in
years.
Frame, barely out of his teens, had
created an invigoratingly unique
album, free of the banalities of produc-
tion indulgence and the then vogueish
techno-pop contrivances. The songs
were short, bright little numbers, spun
together out of an endless supply of
pretty melodies laced with some
masterful eclectic guitar stylings that
melded pop, folk, jazz, even flamenco
styles together seamlessly.
The band arrangements were
relatively sparse, though gorgeously
rich in their simplicity.
Now comes the follow up album,
Knive, a work so cold and musically
barren it's stupefying. Perhaps the
avalanche of accolodes lavished on
Frame went to his head, because this is
the sort of bloated, sloppily satisfied bit
of pretentious garbage that most
songwriters sink to toward the end of
their careers. I can only assume this
means Frame was a flash-in-the-pan
and crammed a whole career into two
albums.
Frame's strictly second rate lyricism
on High Land was that album's major.
flaw, but his soppy romanticism and
naive idealism (as bad as anything lif-
ted from the inside cover of some high
school poets notebook) was the most
easily ignored behind the pure warmth
of his music.
'SeeingR ed '
prem iere hits
Ann Arbor
On Saturday, October 20, the
Ann Arbor Film Cooperative will
present the Ann Arbor premiere
of Seeing Red, an enlightening
documentary of American Com-
munists.
Thescreenings will be held at
MLB Auditorium 3 at 7:00 and
9:00 p.m. on Saturday. Ad-
mission price is $2.50.

Here, against a muted, almost
melodyless score, and Frame's contor-
ted emotion begging vocals, he takes
his Paul Wellerish idiosyncratic absur-
dities to new depths. "Back Door to
Heaven" typifies the problem, with dit-
ties like: This world is never what it
seems, /We've sold it short, it's what
we 're taught, /lost in the
living/Allegiance is the strongest
thing, /It's grown too fast, grown
some wings/ It'sflown away, flown
away.,
Or,. if you have the stomach, try this
passage from Frame's light little love
song: Since I'm scattered and
deranged, I shall seek your holy
lunacy, and / Laugh with joy and
laugh with pain, / So don't say I

didn't say.
Frame has sold himself on the oldest
line that a writer can poison himself
with, that muddled verbosity can be
passed off as sophisticated inspiration
if you sing it with enough vocal.
Mark Knopler, still on self-imposed
exile from Dire Straits, produced the
album, and bares no small blame for its
share of problems.
It's bad enough Knopler didn't
recognize this dreck for what it is and
walk away from it, but he tries to raise
it to such holy reverence with his im-
maculate, sonicly dense mix. But like
Knopler so perfectly demonstrated on
his own Love Over Gold pirate, no mat-
ter how much you shine it, it will never
glow like real gold.
- Byron L. Bull

a studei n tti rk. 65XK
WUF40 +() w Jx

Why Settle for Less?
Present your meal card and
we'll give you $2.50 off any
entree. No lines. No
waiting. Make reservations
and plan on treating
yourself right. 763-4648.
A candlelight dinner with
superb food and
professional table service.
In the Terrace Room of the
University Club, elegant
dining from 5:00-9:30
p.m., Tuesday through
Saturday evenings.
The Dinner Club is a private
facility for students, faculty,
staff, alumni, and their guests.
Only members may purchase
alcohol.

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