Tragedy and Comedy – The Ambivalence

Henry Rollins

Good To See You presented by Stand Up Vienna at Gartenbaukino, Austria 20230209

In 1989, the live monument „Turned On“ was recorded in Vienna. In 2018, he spoke about his travel experiences. And in 2023, after not being able to tour the world inbetween, a Punk icon returns to the city under the banner „Good To See You“. 

Workaholic Henry Rollins enters the stage at the Gartenbaukino from the left and starts right away with a story about playing the first time in Europe and at Arena with Black Flag in 1983 in front of 40-50 people. Later he reminisces that he smashed one’s face with a glas of beer at U4 performing with Rollins Band. In general, he like to see how far he can go, like telling in Moscow, that they are close because their president lies to his president and his president to him.

Concerning Covid, he express admiration for the creativity of people believing in microchips and points out, that he learned there is no sense to argue about believes. Then he gets very serious, telling stories about his abusive childhood as indicated in his book „Art To Choke Hearts“, being hit by his father because he confused economist with communist and as well by his wife for no reason. But the Bob Dylan records of his mother and The Beatles saved him, he tells, while suddenly „Henrietta Collins And The Wifebeating Childhaters“ makes more sense. 

That the ashes of the two were put in tea bags and thrown to a creek, where ducks attacked them, makes him laugh. He sees life as a line that ends with death and that he wants to make eventful. At the end, we wants his ash to be sold on Ebay. There he has a feud with for others, collecting records of the Buzzcocks and The Damned, revealing himself a fanboy. His Fridays he likes to spend at Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

A huge part of the evening is a story of his 60th birthday and a stalker breaking into his fortress, including paranoia, fantasies of spanking and a fight. Also he mentions Iggy Pop and Ian MacKaye, his best friend since 12 years old. And he thinks that old presidents care about the past and present, so young people should be in charge, as they care about the present and future.

In some way his views are ambivalent, as he wants to be kind and emphatic on the one hand, but hates people’s guts on the other. After over two hours, he expresses the wish to see each other again, takes a bow, waves and disappears to the left again.