Rollins’ “Capitalism” spoken word tour brought the outspoken world traveler, author, actor, ex-front man for punk band Black Flag and the Henry Rollins Band, to Sacramento.
Rollins kept the audience entertained with stories about politics, music, traveling, touring and his experiences with people he’s met during his travels.
The “Capitalism” tour kicked off in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sept. 6, and will hit every state capital in the U.S. and end with a visit to the nation’s capital on the eve of the 2012 presidential election on Nov. 5.
Rollins’ tour bus travelled from Salem, Ore., and made its fifth stop of the tour at the Crest Theater.
Rollins stood in the middle towards the front of the stage as he began his performance. Once he started speaking, he described the Crest as, “The most challenging theater I do in America,” mostly because of its lighting.
Once he got that out of the way, he described what the “Capitalism” tour was all about, and that his performance that evening was his 120th show of the year.
Rollins stated that his agent came to him with the idea for the tour, saying “’How about if you do the capital city of every state in the U.S., and poetically it ends on election eve in Washington D.C., and we’ll call it ‘Capitalism?’” I said, “Damn, man, that’s a great idea, and to get all those dates it will be pretty tricky; you would have to start yesterday.”
That’s how the idea for the new tour started to roll.
Rollins’ command of U.S. and world history is commendable, and this became quite apparent as he talked about the first stop of the tour in Honolulu, Hawaii. He spilled facts and observations about the 50th state to join the union, then noted that Hawaii has given us the first African-American president.
As Rollins spoke, he often chose to sidetrack, and brought in other related issues to clarify a point. His quick, witty and articulate comments always came back to the main topic, and added to the story.
Rollins talked about electing President Obama, saying, “America collectively lost all the gills on its neck and twitching primordial tail, and had a non-partisan ‘Wow, look how far we’ve come’ moment.”
Rollins continued, “When I was a kid — and I’m older than all of you — in 1830, when I was born, you could not have a guy like Barack Obama as president.” Again, as with almost any narrative he brought to the stage, he included supporting facts. Electing Obama, in Rollins’ view, validated that the civil rights movement was not a failure, and allowed this proud moment in American history to occur.
Rollins’ magnificent story telling had the audience clapping, laughing and enjoying the anecdotes he brought to the stage. He constantly reminded the audience that his views are his and his alone, and in no way would he discourage anyone from having or expressing their own views.
Rollins noted that he did not care whom voters vote for, but hoped people would vote and exercise their rights, saying, “Democracy needs you.”
Captivating storytelling is a Rollins forte, and as he moved from one annecdote to the next he covered stories about his own family and upbringing. He also touched on racism, capitalism and the punk music scene that was part of his life in the ‘80s.
The raw sentiments, rock and rage of punk music was a completely transformative scene in Washington D.C. for Rollins and life-long friend Ian.
Rollins talked about going to the up-close-and-personal punk shows, where he heard bands like the Cramps, Ramones, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. He also related stories about his shows with Black Flag.
Rollins shared that he answers all his mail. He has received some extraordinary comments, and talked about some of them on stage.
Rollins feels passionate about many topics, and shared his thoughts on how our wars are affecting those who serve, as well as their families and community.
His interest in international travel was also full of tragic and touching stories. Rollins’ view seemed to be that people are people, no matter what part of the world they live in. Making the effort to get to know them might change an unfounded perception we might have.
The Crest Theater audience delivered a standing ovation as Rollins ended his show.
Rollins’ stories, frequency, passion and method of delivery were delightful, resulting in a very entertaining performance.
Several fans walked from the Crest Theater to the corners of 11th and J streets, where the “Capitalism” tour bus was parked. A couple dozen or more fans waited for Rollins’ autograph by the tour bus.
One fan had several items she was hoping Rollins would sign. When asked how long she’s seen Rollins perform, Alex Morales said, “I actually saw him this year; I think it was in March in San Luis Obispo on his previous tour. I’ve seen him three times, and twice this year.”
Morales said she brought several items to be autographed: “a book of Black Coffee Blues, a State of Alert vinyl album, Black Flag’s ‘Damaged,’ two posters and a couple of T-shirts.”
Morales said, “I came all the way from Fresno. It took three hours to get here, two-and-a-half hours for the show, waiting here, and I have three hours to drive home.”
Morales was the last fan to speak with Rollins and have her items autographed.
Rollins spent much time signing autographs and talking to every single fan. He was genuinely interested in what they had to say, and continued to share stories, showing that he really cares about his fans.
As Rollins signed his last piece for Morales, she said that he told the truth about answering every piece of correspondence he gets. She shared that she has sent Rollins emails, and he has answered.
The very busy “Capitalism” tour continues with a visit to Carson City, Nev., on Sept. 14, then hits the capital cities of Arizona and Utah, performing four shows in four cities.