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Coachella 2012: Afternoon jams with Greg Ginn and Seun Kuti

April 15, 2012 |  5:29 pm

Founding Black Flag guitarist and South Bay legend Greg Ginn never had qualms about antagonizing his audience. But in his afternoon set in the Gobi tent he one-upped himself in that regard.

Posed alone onstage with just a guitar, a theremin and a bank of noise-making gadgets, Ginn and his "band" the Royal We played an instrumental set that tested the limits of how much noise a sun-stroked crowd could handle.  Halfway between free jazz, industrial throttle and caveman stoner rock, Ginn had pretty much cleared the tent by the time I walked over, and authoritatively cleared it for real 15 minutes after that.

One couldn't help but want to grab every party dude trickling out and scream "You know this guy was Black Flag, right?" to get them to stay. But if Ginn could make Henry Rollins feel sad and undermined, God knows an indifferent Coachella crowd wasn't going to faze him. One cute side note: two adorable preteen girls were up front at the railing, absolutely rapt. Not sure if they were from his family or not, but Ginn made a third generation of SST fans today. A couple of them at least.

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Meanwhile, across the field, Seun Kuti and his much more human-based band Egypt 80 threw down hypnotizing Afro-beat laced with North African jazz and a jubilance befitting his familial legacy. Alternating between spry trumpet playing and call-and-response hollers, Kuti led his band through long-form jams and looked regal doing doing it (the field's hippies surely envied his backing singers' face paint). The guitar licks were as dry as a desert crag; the overjoyed shouts were as welcome a long drink of water.


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--August Brown

Photo: Musician Greg Ginn of Greg Ginn and the Royal We performs onstage Sunday on Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio. Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella