Monday, June 28, 2010

Written review of Henry Rollins Spoken Word - 6/26/10 @ Sokol Upstairs

Photo courtesy of Mick Ridgway

If you are even minutely familiar with hardcore you know the name Henry Rollins. From his early days in DC singing for SOA, to his famous years screaming for the legendary Black Flag, to a steady stream of creativity of writings, acting, and even entrepreneurship, Henry Rollins has yet to let up in drive and intensity for nearly 30 years. These days Henry Rollins is synonymous with his now well known spoken word tours and I was happy to see that he as doing a gig right here in Omaha. The last time he did a spoken word show in Nebraska was nearly 10 years ago and I missed the show sadly, so this was a good opportunity for me to see and hear the man himself in the flesh. I knew of Henry Rollins spoken word performances from tapes and cds I've purchased through the years and some clips of his shows on the internet, so I was really excited to finally get a chance to see it all in person. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Henry Rollins spoken word work, it is something more of a tangent with every story blending into one another that is sometimes very intense, angry and raw, while other times very humorous and playful. You never really know what you are going to get each time he takes the stage. It was an interesting experience and a great time. Here in my review of the show:

Originally I really wasn't sure if I was going to the show or not with time constrains of everyday life, but after talking to a few friends who were going to the show I convinced myself to snatch up a ticket a few days before the event. The show was to happen at Sokol Auditorium in South Omaha. A place I have been to many times in the past... that is, in the basement venue where I have seen quite a few good hardcore and metal shows over the years. However, I haven't been in the main auditorium room since back in '96 when I saw NOFX play there. I remember back then that the room didn't have air conditioning nor seats so I was expecting some sort of an awkward, sweaty show. Saturday evening finally rolls around and I pick up my friends who wanted to go with and headed down to Sokol to meet up with a couple other pals before the show started. So my posse and I walked into the main room and noticed and relieved that the room was well air conditioned and folding chairs were set up in a way so there wasn't a bad seat in the house. We all walked in and found our seats in the middle left and chatted about hardcore and other important (hardcore) matters waiting for the show to begin while most of the seats began to fill up around us. A little bit of time went by, then suddenly the house music cuts out and the lights whet dark, and a moment later there he was; Henry Rollins in the flesh before our eyes. The audience instantly erupted into applause and cheers. It was a very exciting moment. Henry looked good as usual. The show began with Henry saying that he hadn't been in Nebraska for quite some time and he missed doing shows here and would love to come back at any time. The immediate vibe was a pretty positive one while Henry told us how he's been on tour all over the world speaking in the furthest reaches of the word. Like I stated before, a Henry Rollins spoken word show is a tangent stream of thoughts. Henry Rollins that night covered various topics from being investigated in California by the police, to his experiences traveling abroad this past year doing shows, to talking about his most recent acting and television gigs. Two of the segments that stuck with me the most was when Henry was talking about doing a show in South Africa. We were told (and to some maybe taught) of the independence from the countries time of apartheid. He talked about how he nearly met Nelson Mandela and how important he was to his country. Henry suddenly began to recite the entire South Africa Constitution preamble word for word and deconstruct to the audience what it meant to him and all of us. A very moving moment. Another fond moment of the performance was when Henry Rollins recited a graduation speech he gave to college students last year. It was a typical "do your best, and don't give up" kind of fair, but when it's delivered by a person as intense as Henry Rollins it has a great impact. After nearly two and half hours (of mostly laughter), Henry Rollins thanked his audience and walked off stage to a very well deserved standing ovation. Being that this was the first time I've seen Henry Rollins live, I can't compare it to any other experiences of his spoken word, but I thought the show was awesome and well worth the money spent. I would recommended seeing him in your life at least once, it is defiantly an experience I won't forget. Next time I'm inviting my parents to come along.


  1. I love Rollins...but has he ever recited the entire Preamble of the United States to any of those countries he has gone to just to show what it means to all of us? Why should I care about South Africa's freakin' Preamble? When Rollins talks politics he pisses me off...

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