The following is an excerpt from No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico. All photos by Ken Salerno
Rollins Band/Tesco Vee’s Hate Police – January 13 1991
Tesco Vee (Meatmen vocalist): In ’83, for my magazine Touch and Go, I had [artist] Pushead do the back cover with a really nice drawing of Henry Rollins. Henry was sitting cross-legged with the long hair and the beard, looking kind of like an old shaman with the incense burning and everything. We were simply making fun of Henry that he had long hair and turned into kind of a hippie dude. Well, anyway, he got really mad. He called me and yelled at me. He called Pushead and yelled at him.
Now, this was 1983, okay? Cut to eight years later, and it’s 1991. I had run into Rollins maybe one time before 1991, maybe around four or five years after the Touch and Go incident happened. He was cool toward me, standoffish, but he wasn’t openly hostile. Randy had to talk me into doing this show. He said, “Come on, Tesco. This will be a good bill. You’ve got to do this.” I had my brother-in-law with me at this show, and he had never seen us play. I dragged his ass up to City Gardens from Virginia. So, we walk in the club and even though it’s daytime, it was pitch black inside. We were standing in the darkness trying to get our bearings, and my drummer walks up and says, “Dude, I forgot my cymbals.” If you know anything about this stuff, you know that drummers will loan you their kit, guitarists will loan you their heads and their cabinets, but cymbals… cymbals are like NO WAY. I’m like, “Oh, shit, you idiot!” and I said, “Well, we’ll have to talk to Rollins’ drummer, and you had better hope he lets you use his.” And from out of the darkness, over by the bleachers, comes Henry. He’s wearing black, cut-off shorts, and he’s clutching a pool ball. I extended my hand and said, “Henry! Long time, huh?” He did not extend his hand. He said, “You want to borrow cymbals? You talk to me. And the answer is probably ‘no.’” And he kept on walking. I just stood there. I’m sure my face was the color of a tomato. I was totally like, “Shit, I guess he’s still mad.” We didn’t talk the whole night. I’m sure he wasn’t in the audience while we were playing. It was a big crowd, because it was Rollins, and we were laying an egg. I mean there was absolutely no connection. The crowd was not into us at all. I might have had a handful—maybe 30 to 40 fans—who had come to see me, but it was just one of those nights where you want it to be over with. I was making cracks on stage like, “Oh Henry. I still love you and want to have your baby.” That was probably making it worse. Afterwards, I said something to Randy, who rolled his eyes, like, “Sorry, dude. Whatever. Shit happens.” It was a horrible pairing. A Rollins crowd is not a Tesco Vee crowd. It was one of the great failings in punk rock history. And, of course, my brother-in-law was there, and I wanted to say, “It’s not usually like this! The fans usually like what we’re doing!” Oh, it was terrible. Might be one of the worst shows I’ve ever played. But Henry was cool enough to write a forward for the Touch and Go book, so I guess it worked out okay.