Greg Ginn at Club Garibaldi
The saddest thing is 56 year old Greg Ginn playing shitty instrumental jams with a chubby kid in a Pink Floyd shirt, a prerecorded rhythm section, and a fog machine, to 15 people in Club Garibaldi on a Saturday night.
Yes, Greg Ginn, the man responsible for Black Flag, the man who wrote “Rise Above,” “Six Pack,” and “Nervous breakdown,” and founded SST Records–in doing so releasing fantastic records by the likes of The Minutemen, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, The Meat Puppets, and Dinosaur Jr. I probably don’t need to tell you that kind of autobiographical information if you’re at least casually acquainted with punk rock music (and I assume by your reading this that you are).
Of course, those with some knowledge of the man know that he’s a double edged sword; sure he founded Black Flag, but managed to fire pretty much anyone decent involved with the band apart from himself, and by the end of the band was smoking such copious amounts of weed that he thought it’d be a better idea to focus on instrumental project Gone than Black Flag. Likewise, he destroyed SST by trying to release over 80 records a year and by not paying that aforementioned list of big-deal underground artists, leading to a series of lawsuits and keeping awesome records like Daydream Nation out of stores for extended lengths of time. He’s also cast as the villain in two books sitting on my coffee table, right now; Henry Rollins’ Flag memoir Get In The Van and Negativland’s scathing Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2.
What happened at Garibaldi Saturday night doesn’t really have anything to do with that legacy, nor is it applicable in the “should once great artists stop playing?” argument that I’ve raised on this blog from time to time. No, this was just awful. Calling this show a car crash is somehow unfair to car crashes. When Ginn finally addressed the crowd after the 5th song, 40 minutes after the band started playing (do the math), he informed us that the band was going to take a short break and then return for a second set; I’ve never seen a crowd look so grateful to have an opportunity to leave a room. The feeling was not unlike being marooned on a desert island, only to have Ginn inform us (after 40 minutes of dicking around on guitar) that there was fresh water, food and a helicopter outside.
This was not something that anyone should have been subjected to. This band should never have left a practice space, or Ginn’s bedroom, or maybe even Ginn’s bong. You and everyone you know have written guitar parts like these and immediately discarded them. Which is what these two should have done, instead of somehow tricking 20 people into paying $8 to watch based on the name recognition of one of the members. Oh, and Greg Ginn doesn’t even play the awesome clear Dan Armstrong guitar anymore, he uses some cheap looking Stratocaster knockoff. It’s almost as if he wanted to ensure that this show was disappointing on every level, even if you went in like me with seriously low expectations. I advise you not to listen to the Taylor Texas Corrugators in the way that I would advise you not to expose yourself to the bubonic plague.