Henry Rollins called himself an opinionated pain in the ass, getting right into his speaking set out of respect for the early-rising, working audience sitting in the Berklee Performance Center on Tuesday evening. But for all the opinions Rollins shared, he maintained one message that his self-appointed surrogate father said in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Be excellent to each other.
Rollins said he found a surrogate father in President Lincoln because his own dad was a loutish misogynist, racist, and homophobe. On this Capitalism tour, so named because Rollins stopped in the capital of each tour state, Rollins cited Lincoln’s Lyceum Address and interpreted it as a call for us, the inheritors of this land, to make it better, more efficient, and sexier.
Henry Rollins, sweat dripping off his super cut arms, was a non-stop ball of energy, maneuvering from topic to tangent with such enthusiasm and skill that there was never a lull. He balanced his intensity with heartfelt respect for the audience and his fans; the show felt like you were listening to a friend talking.
Topics were very much relevant to the election season; Rollins criticized the debates for allowing candidates for only having 2 minutes, seeing it as an insult to the attention span of viewers. There has to be more time. “I want to see them bleed from their mouths,” he bellowed.
He steered toward a refreshing anti-misogynist track, bringing up the ridiculous attempts to control women’s reproductive rights. Rollins said, “Republican trip me out…I don’t understand your fear and contempt of the vagina.” From there, he told of his work to stick it to Rick Perry on a stop in Austin, a city he loves anyway because of the fans and great music scene. A fan wanted to make a poster for Rollins and Rollins wrote back that any proceeds should go to the Austin chapter of Planned Parenthood.
The night was interspersed with tales of Rollins’ childhood and Black Flag days, with a lot of self-deprecating humor in the mix. At 51, looking buff as hell and 10 years younger, he joked about his face in wedding photos looking like Stallone’s strained, lip-stretched face in Over the Top; he talked about seeing Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent, The Cramps and more back in the 1860’s.
To this day, Rollins said he is informed by punk rock—he’s met a lot of people and the more he does, the more impossible it is to be prejudiced. Uncle Henry, as he mentioned himself, said he can’t hate his fellow Americans. We need understanding for where we’re at so we know where to go. Stay sexy and heroic.
He’s not That Uncle though. He’s totally a Cool Uncle.