Show Review: Henry Rollins Turns 50 at The Independent, 4/9/2011

by Laura Hamilton on April 11, 2011

Henry Rollins, from last week at the Triple Door in Seattle.

Henry Rollins is a Black Flag speed-demon driven by fear of falling into the cold reaping hand of hypocrisy. In his efforts to keep it real, Rollins embarked on a massive 50th birthday tour that covered close to 40 appearances around the country, wrapping up with his final show, here at The Independent. As always, Rollins’ brand of storytelling and humor is fresh and fascinating, which often leaves the bartender short-changed by the end of the evening.

Rollins misadventures included death defying Black Flag perseverance, tours of Costco with his satanic copilot Heidi, a recent propaganda tour in North Korea, and a head-on collision with Rush Limbaugh (thanks to his friend William Shatner). As exciting as Rollins’ life sometimes sounds, most of his stories come from his constant pursuit of truth in the mundane. For example: most of us wouldn’t think twice about the social ramifications that a 20-pound bag of Costco Doritos could cause, but for Rollins, it’s a whole switchboard of buttons waiting to be pushed. Fortunately, Rollins didn’t push any buttons while being toured around North Korea before his birthday, and suffered no ill effects from the amount of bullshit he had to swallow during his visit. Knowing Henry, he probably had his finger far down his throat as soon as his plane took off for the U.S.

When going to see Rollins, you’d better numb your mind with Full House reruns before you go – you will need as dry a sponge as possible if you hope to soak up even half the morsels Rollins excretes on stage. Just watching him during the two and a half hour set was exhausting, and even as a veteran of 5 previous performances, by the end of the evening, I felt like a tortured fat kid running the last lap with the gym teacher screaming obscenities behind me. Rollins didn’t even pause to take a drink of water.

If you have only seen Rollins in action while accompanied with his band, you are truly missing out. If you find yourself taking right turns more often than left, you might not enjoy Rollins humor, but at the end of the night, Rollins goal is to entertain you and perhaps jumpstart your brain which will always be achieved no-matter which way you lean.

PS – If you happen to be a hot young thing down in Hollywood and you happen to run into Henry on the streets – kindly offer to return with him to his man cave in his ugly champagne-colored Subaru. Henry can get a little lonely sometimes and besides, it is his birthday.

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Photo from Flickr user Slightlynorth under Creative Commons. Thanks!

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