SHOW REVIEW: Henry Rollins LIVE
By: Mike Lingenfelter
6.19.97 - 2:00 a.m.
That's all that that has crossed my mind in the past 5 minutes. Also the throbbing in my neck. I just got back from the Rollins Band/Skunk Anansie show in Orlando, Florida. Their twenty-seventh show out of thirty-five. I'm pretty spent. They came out and wasted another group of kids in a way that only they may understand fully. Every muscle in my body hurts (nearly) & I loved it. Here is the day pretty much as I remember (times are as close as I can remember):
2:45 - We arrive at the Embassy, and of course, we were the first on the scene. Well, nearly the first. The two tour buses were parked out front, one gray and one red, with a satellite dish mounted to it. Besides me, my friend and the people unloading equipment, no one was to be seen. The equipment truck was the only vehicle not running at idle, spreading noxious fumes everywhere. We sat and waited in line patiently. A little while later, who comes bounding out of the satellite-bound bus, but Henry Rollins himself. He actually had a smile and I waved and said, "Hello!", in which we got a smile and a wave back. I didn't expect that. I figured I could go hand Henry the hand-drawn picture I made of him the night before. So, I walked over to the crew entrance and asked some of the roadies if they would bust my head in, if I tried to give it to him. They said that they didn't mind, but Henry might.
This didn't sound promising, but I did it anyway. I walked up to him and said, "I just wanted to give this to you , Sir." (hehe-laughing in my mind) "Cause I really like your work." He smacked on some choclate in his mouth , and stared at the picture. He said , "Thanks!" Then the girl with me asked him as she pointed at a tattoo on his left leg, "Can I ask you something, what's that on your leg?" Someone next to me said, "A Shoe!" Henry only responded by staring at the picture and smacking on his chocolate, while saying, "It's a work in progress." I looked at it and noticed a tattoo, I hadn't recognized before, a solid snake on his left leg crawling up towards the knee area. "Hey, that's new." Still unfaltering, he didn't look away from the picture and replied something I couldn't hear. (At this point, I realize that it isn't a new tattoo, but an old one that I had never seen.) I ended our conversation by saying, "Have a good show man."
That was alot better than my original plan, THROW ONSTAGE !!! I figured I would have to throw the drawing up onstage. This was a nicer way to begin the day, by far. It is hard to read what Henry is feeling, or what mood he's in, but I didn't feel like that was out of line, giving him the picture.
Throughout the day I watched the band members of each band wander around the parking lot and shopping area. Chris Haskett (Rollins guitarist) went for a run a little later, and the guys in Skunk Anansie went to a music store around the corner that I just happened to be in. The lead guitarist was trying out guitars and the bassist was looking at basses. We left and went back to sitting out front, as the singer of Skunk Anansie went for a walk down the road. I saw Melvin Gibbs (Rollins Bassist), Sim Cain (Rollins Drummer) and Theo Van Rock (Rollins Sound guy) walking around too.
As the day moved on, we settled into the crowd and talked a bit. Saw lots of Black Flag tattoos. Met some real Henry fans. Most of the people we met had seen him up at his spoken word (in Jacksonville ?) and met him there.
When about five people were in line, Henry came out with a bottle of water and a bag in his hands. Then some other people came out and one pointed down the road saying, "It's to the left." Henry nodded and set off down the road. Around the corner was a gym. As he went down the road, a car kind of stopped abruptly and Henry turned towards it and nodded as if to say, "Hello, but I've gotta go."
At one point, when there was about 50-75 people there, Henry came outside and wanted to sit down to get ready for the show. If you don't know much about Rollins, you learn two things quick:
#1. He is very solemn. Rarely does he smile before the concert and that is a good thing. That is the 110% that he is going to be giving in a few hours, building up. Raging. Therapy released.
#2. Leave him alone before the show.
Two or three people walked over, tried to talk him into signing things, but he only signed one girls copy of One From None. He was looking mostly at the ground and looked pretty agitated that they wouldn't let him be. He told someone we knew that after the show he would talk and sign things, that he wants to get ready now. People keep coming over, making him get up, and he just wanted some peace. He just sat down against the wall, with no one bothering him, eyes shut ...
8:00 - We were at the front of the only (slow) line, when they started to let us in. So, needless to say we got good places (center stage, right on the barricade) and we got cool tour shirts.
9:00 - Skunk Anansie comes on and we are ready for anything. The lead singers bald head glistened in the dim club lights and she looked pleased at the reaction of the crowd. This band was quite heavier than I expected, even though I saw the guitarist playing earlier. The bass and drums pounded so hard, the guitarist was great, as was the lead singers singing. The bassists' dreadlocks span around, to and fro in the air all during their set. They kicked ass. It turns out they are from London and have two albums out currently, the newer called Stoosh. They tore through their set and left us wired and ready for Rollins. (One guy yelled "SKIN!", which at first I thought was a lame way of saying , "show us some ..", and I gave the guy a dirty look, even though I couldnt find him. WELL, after the show I noticed that everyone kept calling her Skin, so I felt pretty dumb.)
10:00 - Enter : Rollins Band
After Skunk Anansie finished playing, eventually a good and wasted fellow stared blankly at the door that everyone comes in and out of and yelled flatly, "HENRY!!!" several dozen times. About 10 "ROLLINS!" came from the audience and a few that were like, "Get the fuck out here!" and "Come on you pussy!"
Then the lights dimmed and no one came out. Instead of Jimi Hendrix's new album out, which was playing for awhile, the speakers turned up and out came a strange spoken word. It was like a speech therapy tape, but all weird. " Will...you...take...a..pic - ture...of...me? ...Please ...take...a..pic - ture...of...me." It got alot weirder than that. It was almost robotic sounding. Suddenly, some guy shouts, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?" and in response, "ITS CALLED 'SPOKEN WORD' YOU MORON!"
Well, eventually they came out.
That short period between when you first see them onstage and when they look at each other and they count off in unison, they just...
They tore into the song and the crowd tore into one another. The mosh pit opened up about two people behind us and receded and ceded all night long. At points, I was part of the barricade. For two hours, they tore through each song and at one point (I think before Do It) Henry urged everyone to be quiet, that they were going to play a quiet song and that they wouldn't be able to hear it unless they were quiet. He said that it was like a poem set to ambient music.
Well, if you've never heard Do It or any other Rollins Band stuff, I have to say, there is no quiet.
It was great. He gives off an energy that no one is immune to catching. To make a point about this energy, I am regularly passive and I was about 1-2 minutes from really beating some guy, who was trying to creep in between me and my friend up front. Just before I decided to heave him over the barricade, a security guard grabbed his hands and threw him back . We closed the gap. He was so pissed at that guy, he was flipping him off, yelling and trying to provoke a fight. I was smiling so hard because he got what he deserved and he couldn't do anything about it.
Being right in front of Henry isn't the easiest thing to do. Every crowd surfer aims (as well as possible) towards Henry, I guess. Of course, they also all fell on my neck, when I didn't see them coming. I would estimate about 15-20 guys fell on my neck directly. One guy punched my eye on the way down too. One crowd surfer fell behind me, but I quickly grabbed his bare arm and heaved him up before they engulfed over him. After the band went backstage to wait out the time needed to get everyone yelling and ready for the encore, a guard picked up one of Chris Haskett's picks and gave it to my friend. She pocketed it, and gave it to me after the show, since I am a fan & she wasn't. The encore was great and then they really left to go backstage. We wandered over to the bar where Skin was sitting and we told her that we thought that they were good. I said, "Yeah!" and flashed a thumbs up, which she smiled and returned back to me.
We left the inside of the club and went to the bus where our friends were already waiting. First out was Theo, who said that Henry would be out soon, to wait for him. He popped into their bus and wasn't to be seen again by me. The kid next to me said, "Wow, thats alot better than what they said to us after the Marilyn Manson show, they were all like, 'You cannot be by the buses, you MUST go directly to your cars.'" Guess that shows you what matters and to whom it matters more. Then Melvin came out and we shook his hands, we comlimented his bass playing and I got him to sign his picture on the inside of the liner notes to Come in and Burn. Then out came Rollins and he had his hands full of stuff. He had his notebook computer, among other things. One of the guys I was with asked him if he would come over and he turned his head ever so slightly, saying, "Wait just one minute, I feel like someone's fucking maid, 'Henry go and entertain, Henry come over here and serve us!', So just wait a minute." We all laughed and when the door closed we looked at each other and commented that at least he's in a good mood.
When he came out the stragedy was: We'll take a picture of our friends with Henry if they'll take a picture of us and him. So when he came out, our friend asks if he'll sign his ticket and let us take a picture of them and vice-versa. He simply said, "Sure.", waving his head like it was no problem. So after the pictures, I handed him the liner notes to CiaB, that Melvin signed earlier and he signed his picture. I looked at him and said, "Sorry for torturing you and thank you. You were great tonight."