Report: Rage Against the Machine Live LA

 

The legendary
band’s “L.A. Rising” show this past weekend, July 30, at
the Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum drew nearly 60,000 punters.

 

By Jose Martinez

 

In
only its second Los Angeles
show in the last ten years, Rage Against the Machine leapt onto the local scene
with the weight of Godzilla behind it Saturday night. In classic Rage fashion,
its last two L.A. specific performances (not including a 2007 concert at
Coachella two hours away from the city) were protest shows; in 2000 at the
Democratic National Convention and recently in protest of Arizona’s controversial
immigration law.

 

With
close to 60,000 on hand at the Coliseum, it was a safe bet something unruly
would occur. Dare we say ‘riot’? Hell, a riot broke out days before on Hollywood Boulevard,
as ravers were annoyed an outdoor DJ set was shut down before a movie premiere.
Maybe the $100 ticket price kept revelers from causing too much havoc, fearing
they’d miss the band’s long-awaited L.A.
reunion.

 

Twenty
years ago, when Rage delivered its unrelenting debut, they were fresh faces in
the wake of the 1992 Rodney King riots. And the band’s militant passion only
grew from there. Saturday night, as mosh pit after mosh pit broke out on the
general admission football field ‘dancefloor,’ it was evident that there is not
a hard rock band as intense and radical as Rage Against the Machine. Now a
bonafide stadium act, the show, dubbed L.A. Rising, was the band’s attempt to
create it own annual rock festival. The inaugural lineup included Muse, Rise
Against, Lauryn Hill, Immortal Technique, and El Gran Silencio.

 

“It’s
a much broader endeavor than sort of a normal rock gig would be,” guitarist Tom
Morello explained. “Our hope is that we’re able to establish a festival in Los Angeles that people
look forward to seeing every year.”

 

 

 

Kicking
things off with a fiery version of “Testify,” the sound gave out and continued
to drop but that didn’t slow down the pit or the band’s nuclear onstage
assault. Fan favorite after fan favorite followed and the band, singer Zach de
la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk,
were just as intense and immediate as ever.

 

Warning
that there’s a “tension in the air” in Los
Angeles, de la Rocha railed against the slew of
foreclosures around the city as new hotels, filled with empty rooms, open in
downtown. He recalled how the city got it right with the Watts Riots and the
’92 riots. Whether he was attempting to insight a riot, there is a fine line
between civil disobedience and rallying for violence, the audience seemed too
busy relishing the return of one of its rock favorites to take notice.

 

 

 

Revolution
was the theme of the day, from rapper Immortal Technique getting the audience
to chant “Viva La Revolution” to Lauren Hill hearkening back to her Fugees
days, to Chicago
punks Rise Above getting the mosh pits going. Muse added a great sense of high
power arena rock to the night. Delivering an impressive and rousing
performance, Muse picked up its rock quotient, offering popular rock jams like
“Back in Black,” “Heartbreaker” and “House of the Rising Sun” into its
songs.

 

Yet
the night belonged to Rage. Under the cool, beautiful summer L.A. sky, the band proved it is still as
mighty and incendiary as ever. While fires burned in the mosh pits, there was
no looting, an L.A.
pastime, and the first ever L.A. Rising concert went off without a hitch. It
will be interesting to see if the daylong festival becomes an annual event and
what Rage’s involvement will be. Maybe at the very least it will mean the band
will perform yearly instead of once every decade.

 

 

[Photo
credit of band: Penner, via Wikimedia Commons; other photos by Jose Martinez]

 

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