A few months back Matt asked me if I wanted to join him and Mr. D.X. Ferris to see Henry Rollins perform a spoken word at The Kent Stage in, you guessed it, Kent, OH. My response was of course a “HELL YES” and as time flew by I found myself meeting up with the vinyl addict and Ferris at the lovely Taco Tantos for a bite to eat before the show on the first warm evening of the year.
Before I start talking about the show I need to touch base with Taco Tantos. The place is amazing if you fancy a burrito, taco, or any other traditional Mexican finger food. Having been there a handful of times I have never had a bad thing to say about it, that is, until I wat there with Matt.
I don’t know if it is luck or fate but is seems like things go bad when Matt and I hang out. I could bring up stories from the past but I would rather focus on the present. I ordered my food followed by Matt and then Ferris. I told the eye catching order taker that I wanted to eat on the patio and I thought all was fine. Well 45 minutes later Matt and I are still waiting for our food, Ferris has a plate of tacos, and I am getting pissed.
I ask a kid if my order is ready multiple times and he just seemed to be getting annoyed with me. Being calm and not trying to lose it I notice 2 plates of food next to the cash register that have been sitting there for a while and manage to get the freshman stoner’s attention once more and point out that those two plates look like the food we ordered. The kid looked at me like I was crazy and said that since they were for the patio I had to ring a doorbell to let them know I was out there.
A doorbell? Are you serious? I was not told about said magical doorbell let alone how to get into the patio area nor did Matt. We both waited by the pick up area in hopes they would call out our name and hand us our delicious, and damn were they delicious, burritos. Instead we were ignored until I was about to erupt in obscenities.
Is there a moral to this little rant? Yes, don’t order food to be eaten in the patio unless you are fully aware of the doorbell.
Now that I got that off my chest i might as well go into the point of this blog entry – Mr. Henry Rollins.
I was introduced to Rollins when I was a teenage music lover and have grown up with him since. From Black Flag to Rollins Band I have always appreciated him as a musician but it was not until I started getting in to his books of poetry as well as listening to his spoken words did I realize how intelligent and inspiring this guy was. I started to identify with him and used his smart words of encouragement and reality and put them in front of me daily.
The guy seriously saved my life. Rollins had a huge impact of me growing up and as much as some people may not want to believe this, he helped shape me into who I have become as a person. There was something about the way his words came out that attacked me and woke me up. I learned that I was not the only one like me out there who took hell from the naive and dumbfounded. I learned to chose my words wisely and be happy with who I am. He was a punk rock psychologist for me through words and music, he was an idol and still is to this day.
When Rollins took the stage today I knew I was going to be in for something good. I started thinking about all the times I saw him live when he was in the Rollins band as well as the only other time I saw him perform a spoken word in Kent. Before he even spoke I was immediately in a good mood because I knew for the next three hours or so this guy was going to talk and I was going to listen to every single word he had to say to me.
Rollins, who is 49 years old, still looks tough as hell. He came onto the stage in a black tee and black pants. He looked a little thinner since I last saw him and over all had the same full forced charisma I have grown fond of. The punk rock musician / actor / writer took the mic, put it up to his mouth, and began to speak.
For three hours Rollins took everyone in the Kent Stage on a tour of words with out taking one break. He spoke about current events, the government, growing up, traveling, and just being himself. The great thing about his storytelling abilities is that he would take a story, sidetrack for a moment, and then jump back to the original story with out causing confusion at all only to flow into a new story about something not related to the previous. All stories were true stories from the internet loving punk rock hero.
Rollins had such a love for the Constitution and proved his intelligence on that stage tonight. Admitting that he reads the document daily he shared his excitement for it and history for that matter to everyone. I admit I was getting excited as well as he talked about the freedom of speech and why he loves America so much. He dished our articles from that document like a professor would in a college history class with ease, it was impressive.
Adding his humor into some of the stories it was still clear that he had a point with his stories. He would talk about the lesbian high school student who was denied the prom in Mississippi and then formulate a better generalization for a better outcome. From there he went into organized religion and their intolerance for same sex relations only to find it as an escape and opportunity for those who were shunned from their beliefs for being who they are.
Once he was done with one subject he would move to the next and just keep the flow going. I am not sure if everyone in the house agreed with him 100% on everything he had to say but I know I did. Once again I found myself sitting there relating with this punk rocker who I wanted to grow up and be when I was a kid. I sat there with a stern smile on my face and found myself laughing at some of his jokes more than others. I was not trying to be a super fan, like the girl next to me was, I was just enjoying his company.
For a few moments Rollins touched on the most recent election, where he was, and what he did. I was jealous to find out that him and Ian MacKaye went to see Bad Brains at an afternoon show before the polls had closed. The stories he told during that segment were humorous but also personal. He talked about how MacKaye and him first discovered Bad Brains while seeing The Damned at a D.C. show and how they all became friends (he also bragged to the crowd he was at the first Minor Threat concert and saw Led Zeppelin). Rollins shifted back to the show him and MacKaye went to and talked about the lead singer of Bad Brains who pretty much has lost his mind in the mid-eighties.
It was funny to hear what Rollins saw that during that show but also kind of sad. Rollins admitted that he and MacKaye were floored when they were young and saw Bad Brains for the first time. He admitted that HR’s actions were not welcomed by some of the crowd at the election day show and they seemed discouraged and not wowed like he and MacKaye were.
From helping Rupaul as a judge to acting on Sons Of Anarchy he just kept dishing out great stories about his life. I found myself most interested in when he talked about the time he was invited to a college to give a commencement speech at Sonoma College. Where he did not recite the speech word for word (you can read the speech in it’s entirety here), he did unload a good chunk of it and my God it was…inspiring and just wholesome.
I could see the honestly in Rollins’ eyes throughout the night as continued to speak to everyone. Rollins was a great storyteller throughout and not once did he reach for a sip of water or lose his place. Seriously, three hours of non-stop talking, and not the kind where you want to excuse yourself from the room. This was energetic, fun to listen to material. He was full of information that he just wanted to release though the entire crowd and that he did. Before I, and everyone else, knew it he was closing the night telling everyone he was going to return everyone’s asses to them and exited the stage.
I left The Kent Stage satisfied and full of knowledge and I know I was not the only one. Perhaps some people attended tonight because they know the name Henry Rollins and heard his spoken words are entertaining but I went there knowing about him. I wanted some inspiration from a tough SOB that pretty much was there for me when I thought no one else was. He may not know it and may never will but as he left the stage I clapped my hands heavily and gave a thank you to him for all that he has done for me over the last 15 years.