Montreal Black Flag

Black Flag is playing Montreal, and I couldn’t be more bummed

PLUS Some other April shows you can get legitimately excited about.

The band that easily had the biggest impact on me as a musician, a fan and a person is coming to town, and I couldn’t be more bummed.

Obviously the big news this month is the new, reheated version of the heroes of hardcore, Black Flag, will be playing Foufounes Electriques. I am indeed blessed to have seen Black Flag when they were still completely lethal and would probably rank their 1984 My War tour stop in Toronto as the greatest show I’ve ever witnessed. To this day, I’ve never seen a band perform with so much conviction and pure passion while leaning into every note, much to the chagrin of the punker than thou audience who had not listened to Flag’s sea change. In fact, guitarist and leader Greg Ginn still sticks out in my memory of that show as one of the greatest musicians I have ever seen.

After ’84, things started to dwindle for the mighty Flag as their nihilistic angst began to fizzle into retread, and the miles they clocked in on the road, numerous line changes and years of living in poverty began to weigh too heavily on them. In ’86, while they still had some teeth left to clench, the band respectfully called it a day. 

Sadly, Ginn would not let sleeping dogs lie, and after almost two decades they had another kick at one of America’s great bands. After a misfiring of the band and reuniting with second Flag singer Ron Reyes, Greg Ginn would appear on a record that was even worse than Tom Troccoli’s Dog (a record made by two Flag roadies and Ginn in ’85) — 2013’s utter stinker What The… Of course, if you’re a fanatic like myself, you can’t stop watching the car crash that Black Flag has become. 

After Reyes was fired in the middle of a show 10 years ago, things just got worse with pro skater Mike Vallely taking over the mic. Montreal will be treated to two sets with Flag performing all of the utter classic (and the record that launched the Melvins, grunge etc) My War (side 2!!!) and will perform a second set of all the rest. For a small glimpse of greatness that has so clearly eluded them over the past decade, I will be squinting along with the rest of you. May God help us all. 87 Ste-Catherine E., April 19, 8 p.m., $35 plus service fees

One show that is definitely not going to disappoint is the Bikini Kill show at MTelus — god willing. After attempting to make up the show three times now, Kathleen Hanna and co. are going to be playing for keeps during this rare glimpse of the band that was the touchstone for the riot grrrl movement. It’s pretty much guaranteed that after the first few seconds of “Rebel Girl,” MTelus is going to be nothing but splinters. All grrrls to the front! 59 Ste-Catherine E., April 12, 8 p.m., $55

Bikini Kill is finally playing Montreal on Wednesday, April 12.

Since we’re definitely going for the ’80s/’90s classics, I have to mention that the kings of death metal, Carcass, will be laying waste with the uber heavy support of thrash kings Municipal Waste and (gulp) true thrash legends Sacred Reich and Creeping Death taking up the sweat slot at Corona. This will obviously sell out, so throw this paper down and grab tickets right now!!! 2490 Notre-Dame W., April 15, 7 p.m., $126

Carcass is coming to Montreal on Saturday, April 15.

This article was originally published in the April 2023 issue of Cult MTL.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.