Henry Rollins in Fredericton

When I lived in metropolis of Washington DC in my younger days, I passed on lots of shows and events for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps I was too cool – highly doubtful. Maybe I had better things to do. Also highly doubtful. Lack of funds? Safer bet.

Be that as it may, one person I never got around to seeing was Henry Rollins. If you don’t know who he is, I’m not gonna school you, Google can do that.

For the most part I missed out on the DC Punk/Hardcore scene, even though it was going on/trailing off when I lived there. I was kinda young, and lived in the ‘Burbs in Virginia. It was only later on in my early twenties that I realized the music and lifestyle revolution that was going on – literally a few miles from my house. Oh, the irony.

I wish I could claim to have been a part of that, knowing now the full magnitude of what was going down and how it would effect things in the future, but alas, I cannot. About the closest I can get is to say I’ve seen many shows at the original 9:30 club, great shows I’ll never forget, and honestly – though it’s improved, nice, high tech and will hold a boatload more people – the new 9:30 hasn’t 1/8th the character of the original.

I came to Rollins post-Black Flag, when he had the band and I can’t even say I was in on the old-school End of the Silence days. I didn’t hear of him ’till he sort of broke mainstream with the Weight record and obligatory ‘Liar’ video. I know, I know, my street cred is taking a hit. In my defense though, I did go back and dig the Black Flag stuff, learned the history, and most of all started reading Hank’s books.

I’ve ebbed and flowed with regards to his musical output over the years, but I’ve always stayed with and connected with his writing on all kinds of levels and found it at times insightful, inspirational, enraging, and compelling – often in the same sentence.

Those who know Hank, or even know of him also are probably aware of his status as a pioneer and bastion of the ‘Spoken Word’ milieu, performing what I can only think has to be thousands of shows up to this point just standing on a stage talking at you, though ‘talking’ really isn’t a strong or accurate enough word.

Now, I’m old and I live in a  small town. I, like many before me, have fallen woefully behind in ‘all things hip’ and I’m beginning to come to terms with that. One of the benefits of my scenic locale though is that when anyone of any sort of repute manages to make it out to our hamlet, it’s a real treat, and an opportunity to see them in really small, intimate venues that some of my counterparts down in the Metropolis would kill to have access to.

So when I heard Hank was coming to The Charlotte Street Arts Center for a speaking gig to an audience of only 200, I, to use the parlance of the times, ‘got all up on that’.

I’d listened to his spoken word albums and watched the DVDs but had never seen the man in person, so I was really looking forward to the show and he didn’t disappoint. Attempting to recap it here would be both parts pointless and unfulfilling for you, dear reader, so I won’t bother with that. He is to be experienced first hand, without doubt.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the man and his stories is the travel. There is something to be said for guy who travels to places others don’t of his own volition, sometimes against the advice of pretty much everyone, for the interaction and desire to experience new things/people/cultures.

Although we can aspire to go forth and experience the world in a similar manner and perhaps succeed to some level, we all will have different and varied experiences and I truly appreciated the opportunity to get some of that vicariously through him and his stories. It was great that he finally made it out to Fredericton, I thank him, and hopefully it won’t be the last time we see him ’round.

As everyone spilled out of the stickiness and heat of the auditorium last night – the temperature of which was no doubt elevated at least a few degrees by the intensity of the man himself – into the dark, cool streets, I had purposely parked a few blocks away so I would have to walk afterwards late downtown – an opportunity I don’t get very often.

It was calm, the streets were quiet and relatively deserted. I let myself succumb to the reeling of possibilities, reactions and questions raised by he had said. Indeed while the show had been fantastic, the subsequent feeling I left with was just as good, if not better.

A testament to the Word of the Man.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for an excellent article. I had no idea who Henry Rollins was ( I’m an old lady!), but your article made me look him up. I am intrigued and hope to read some of his works. Perhaps I’ll even go see him if he ever comes to Sacramento.

  2. Wellllllll, while I’d certainly encourage you to go see ’em, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that he at times uses ‘colorful’ language and that I’m pretty sure you’d come down on opposite sides of the fence on some political and religious issues. By all means have at it though!

  3. Thanks for reading Matt. Yeah it was warm in there. That’s a hilarious shot. I was surprised at just how FAST he started sweating. Seems like as soon as he hit the stage – almost like he was working out beforehand. ‘Course knowing Hank, he may very well have been. Sweatbox indeed.

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