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May 12, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Henry Rollins, eh?

Earlier this year I saw Henry Rollins at the Big Day Out. My friend had told me he’d seen Rollins’ TV show, where he screamed through the desert in a Hummer yelling his opinions at the camera, so I didn’t know what to expect. Wasn’t this the same guy who headed one of the foremost American hardcore bands of the Eighties? I enjoy the ol’ Black Flag, and evidently so did some of the crowd at the Big Day Out. One guy yelled “You used to be in a band!” which seemed to capture the dominant mood of the spectators. Rollins has campaigned for good causes including gay rights, anti-racism, and women’s rights, so in theory he should have had some interesting things to say.

But he didn’t. Instead he stood on stage for half an hour telling us all about the time his house was burgled while he locked himself on the balcony and called the police. Not to bag on Rollins, but it’s a funny idea that you can be paid to speak on stage for half an hour without saying anything particularly relevant, humorous or stimulating. Sure, worse crimes are committed every day; there are whole TV shows based around giving vacuous individuals a forum, and at least he wasn’t trying to be funny or entertaining. But in the words of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen: “it was a boring”. Spoken word from aging punk rockers needn’t be boring. Ex Dead Kennedy’s front-man Jello Biafra – a fellow ‘alternative icon’ (Rollins own self-description) and spoken word artist – entertains while providing interesting and amusing viewpoints on politics and world events. Rollins’ major draw-card seemed to be some residual celebrity status and a provocative image, but he didn’t say much to provoke anything besides boredom. Maybe it was just a slow day. I didn’t go to his show last week so I’d be interested to hear how it went. Feel free to write in and tear me to shreds defending the mighty Rollins.


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