RECAP: BLACK FLAG AND LIGHT ASYLUM AT NORTHSIDE FESTIVAL

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Saturday evening we headed to Warsaw to see the second of two much talked about Black Flag shows. As the Greenpoint venue steadily filled up, the shared thought in the room was “how do you separate Black Flag the band from its one-time frontman Henry Rollins?” Since Rollins’ departure from Black Flag in the late 1980s, he has gone on to become – among many things – a pop cultural icon, and even though he joined the band years after its formation (Rollins was first a fan before joining), he is still largely seen as the “face” of Black Flag. However, despite no plans of Rollins to appear with Black Flag at this Northside performance, the crowd – both young and old – buzzed with anticipation of tapping into the raw energy and punk rock nostalgia they were about to be served (featuring original Black Flag member, and lead songwriter Greg Ginn on guitar, no less). This was all made completely evident by the way the audience exploded into one giant mosh pit (oblivious to signs plastered around the venue forbidding it) as soon as the first unhinged guitar riffs emanated from the stage. While the crowd was most raucous and responsive to songs from Black Flag’s classic album Damaged, Ginn and singer Ron Reyes (who actually sang for Black Flag before Rollins joined) provided the perfect soundtrack for those in attendance looking to completely let go and get shoved around for an hour or so. While the mayhem was far more contained than that of say a basement show in the relatively sizable Warsaw, anyone familiar with the band’s discography couldn’t help but feel the energy while hearing songs like “Gimme Gimme Gimme”, “TV Party” and “Six Pack” brought to life by one of the band’s original members.

Sunday evening, we experienced a completely different sounding show, yet one that had just as much visceral energy from the performers and audience as Black Flag’s set on the previous night. Light Asylum took the stage at Cameo Gallery a little after 11 PM, and even on a Sunday night, as soon as the first beats of  “Angel Tongue” began to play the crowd was rendered defenseless to the commanding presence of vocalist Shannon Funchess. Before we go any further, let’s just take a moment for this woman’s voice. Those who have been to a Light Asylum know the awe-inspiring power of Funchess’ instrument, and that no one sounds like she does. It was an inspiring sight to witness: those who came out for Light Asylum clearly felt the same connection to the music – and spellbinding stage presence of Funchess – as previous generations of misfits and punks did so many years ago when they fell in love with Black Flag. The energy at Light Asylum never waned once during their set, allowing us to momentarily abandon the anti-climactic feeling that goes along with Sunday nights, and live inside Funchess’ kinetic and captivating world, for one last (and easily the best) dance party of the weekend.

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OAK FAMILY ALBUM: LIGHT ASYLUM / OAK RECOMMENDS: LIGHT ASYLUM AT CAMEO GALLERY

INTRODUCING: COCO & BREEZY