Rollins Band - 07/27/1992

Henry Rollins 1992

I could swear that I went to the Rollins/Beastie Boys show, but this ticket doesn't seem to be for that. I think that there was a Rollins show, a Beastie Boys show, and then one with both, all in the same year and all at Janus Landing so that may be where my confusion comes from.

I was not into punk, and therefore I missed Black Flag and everything else up until Henry Rollins began making waves with his solo career. Rollins was always more of a personality to me than just a musical figure. I didn't really love any of his albums, but he had a hell of a lot of charisma and when he was talking, it was usually more interesting and more intelligent than when anyone else (especially from the music world) was. I went to see Rollins on the strength of a couple of songs from his record, but mostly because I just admired the guy for being a smart, funny, outspoken guy with tattoos (especially that Neubauten one.)

Henry Rollins would later become almost a parody of himself as he would get swallowed up a bit by the Hollywood machine. He started appearing in movies as stunt casting (but he was usually good, if a little distracting in them,) he was on every cable talk show it seemed, I think he eventually had his own show, and he became a kind of token of the underground music culture that 'normal people' could identify. He never went as far as someone like Ice-T, who lost all credibility and nearly severed completely his connection to that which made him famous in the first place, but Rollins definitely suffered from overexposure.

In 1992 though, Rollins was still relatively fresh for me. While his stage routine seemed almost calculated (black shorts, no shirt, no shoes, squat and scream) it was probably just the fact that his basic, no frills approach was quickly appearing to be just as much of a trademark as a boy band's dance routine that turned me off. I'm sure I saw Rollins again, but by the mid to late 90's, I was really, really tired of him.

Rollins to me seems a little bit like the tv-friendly Jello Biafra. Both came from a punk background, both have a lot to say, and both can ruffle feathers. But Jello is both a little more respected amongst the academics and a little more rough around the edges and unpredictable than Rollins. I imagine Jello gets less offers to quip wisely on VH1 shows because he either tells them to fuck off or the producers are afraid he'll spit bile that doesn't make for funny soundbytes. Rollins' spoken word stuff is full of bile and cursing and stories that may be equally offensive to some, but I think he cleans up better.