At OnMilwaukee.com, we are stoked to be able to deliver reviews before anyone else in the city. We check out the show, then we go home and write the review immediately following.
For the first time in a decade of reviewing shows, however, I wish I had more time to contemplate what the hell just happened on stage.
I saw Henry Rollins tonight perform a three-hour spoken word performance at Turner Hall Ballroom. I have never seen anything like it. The 51-year-old Rollins, who looked as tattooed and buff as ever in his black T-shirt and black pants, spoke non-stop, without taking so much as a single sip of liquid, and told intelligent, political and entertaining story after story.
"I'm a 33 playing at 78," he warned.
Rollins, who once fronted '80 punk band Black Flag and later The Rollins Band, is also a writer, comedian, publisher, actor and radio DJ.
He started his spoken word performance tonight by saying, "Thank you for taking half of your weekend and giving it to me" and delivered dozens of stories that flowed gracefully, one from the next, about such a wide variety of topics it's impossible to understand in retrospect how it all fit together. And yet it did.
Turner Hall was packed with fans and yet during the lengthy show only one time did someone yell out something at Rollins. People were mesmerized. Plus, the sound was really good.
For the first 15 minutes of the show, Rollins spoke about Abraham Lincoln, "rugged individualism" and Americans' lifestyle choices. He basically said so many Americans are afraid of overseas dangers and yet are killing themselves.
"We are snuffing out the American candle with corn chips and inactivitiy," he said.
Rollins went on to speak about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Florida boy who was killed for "looking suspicious" by a man who, at this point, remains free. Rollins sees this as an important reflection of present-day America and a prediction of the country's future.
"However this gets worked out will be the report card for the entire country," he said. "This represents the finger on the pulse of America."
Rollins gave a run-down of his thoughts on presidential candidates. (He did not comment on Obama). He called Mitt Romney "the emptiest suit in America" and compared him to a political Max Headroom. He said Ron Paul looks like his suit is still on the hanger and he needs to improve his posture. Rick Santorum, according to Rollins, might wanna try holding some testicles in his palm other than his own.
"Anyone's who's so obsessed with it, maybe should explore it," he said. "Dot a few I's and cross a few T's, sort of speak."
He spoke about women's right, and called for men to stand up not for women's rights, but with women for the sake of their rights.
About five times throughout the evening, people applauded his commentary. At the end, he received a standing ovation.
He talked of letters he received from soldiers on the verge of suicide and self-loathing teenaged girls who turned to him for body approval. (He wrote them back, and admitted to getting no feedback and therefore no resolve as to how his letters were received). Also, he delivered a love letter of sorts to the audience. He said, "you are my great obsession" and admitted that his biggest fear was disappointing us. He said the audience was all he thinks about after 4 p.m. every day on tour.
"I can no longer taste food. All I think is, 'They are coming. They are coming to listen to you...Who do you think you are?'"
Rollins has been on tour for 31 years, delivering about 100 shows a year.
"I have no real talent," he said. "I'm just interested in everything."
The second half of the show â€“ yes, we are only to the second half â€“ he spoke of "stabbing the bleeding a-hole" (this is something that needs to remain among audience members only, forever), a nightmare of receiving a lap dance from Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, a trip to an Evangelical church in Kentucky where worshippers waved around venomous snakes and rocked his world with their incredible music talents, visiting the dead bodies of former North Korean rulers, delivering soap and soccer balls to Haitian people and eating rat livers.
Rollins was funny, militant, warm, smart, humble and extremely intense.
Experiencing and understanding as much as we can while on this earth is our human responsibility at this point, according to Rollins, and he deeply believes in withholding judgment on people and things based on how they appear on the surface.
"Eat as much weird food as you can, hopefully it doesn't blow you up, and listen to as much music as you can that you can't snap your fingers to," he says. "I know you know this."
You forgot to mention that when you took that picture he actually stopped the show to give you a "really," which happens about once a show to someone. This 3 hour rant of classic Henry, which is about the normal length for his spoken word tours, was one of his better performances. I've seen every tour since celebrating his 40th birthday at the Vic theater in Chicago in 2001, and can't wait to see next years show after the recalls and presidential election.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published May 6, 2016
Does everyone love eating breakfast for dinner or "brinner?" It certainly seems that way and so O'Lydia's, 338 S. 1st St., might be Milwaukee's first restaurant to offer a Brinner Night every Tuesday starting May 10.
Published May 5, 2016
I've certainly had my share of Cinco de Mayo margaritas, but today I had my very first $100 margarita at Plum Lounge, 780 N. Jefferson St.
Published May 4, 2016
Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, and regardless of your thoughts on the viability of this "holiday," it is a good excuse to get out there and have an early-in-the-week fiesta.
Published May 4, 2016
After seeing a glut of photos on Facebook of Bloody Marys piled high with everything from a half-dozen deviled eggs to an entire chicken, we finally experienced one of these decadent Bloodies at Downtown's The Loaded Slate.
Published May 3, 2016
To further the point that Mittens isn't able to cloak his joker, representatives of PETA will be in Downtown Milwaukee on Wednesday, May 4, dressed up in large pink and blue condom costumes.
Published May 2, 2016
This summer, David and Marla Poytinger - who also own Splash Studio -Â plan to open Nine Below, a "maker's golf tavern" in the space below Beans & Barley, 1905 E. North Ave. See renderings of the 7,000-square foot space after the renovation process.
Published May 2, 2016
RamĂłn Melendez has bartended at Walker's Pint for almost six years, but he started in the service industry many years prior. His smile, quick service and positive energy contribute to the overall good vibe at The Pint, and further proves that it's not a spot only for lesbians.
Published April 29, 2016
How many trees are in the city of Milwaukee? What deadly disease is currently killing many of our trees? Can you really find out the age of a tree by counting the rings? Where are the most spectacular trees located? Read on to get the skinny on Brew City's trees.
Published April 29, 2016
There is something very familiar and comforting about the Channel 10 Great TV Auction, which starts today and runs through Saturday, May 7. Recently, we perused the items which are available and found five that are quite unique.
Published April 28, 2016
Robert King and Ryan Bonen will soon open The Phoenix Lounge in the former Duplex, 785 N. Jefferson St. King and Bonen also own the Bad Genie, which is next door to the future Phoenix, and the kitchen inside Yield Bar, called Comiskey's, 1932 E. Kenilworth Pl.