Live Review: Rage Against the Machine "L.A. Rising"
Mon, 01 Aug 2011 14:26:07
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"Fight the war, fuck the norm," screamed Rage Against the Machine vocalist Zack de la Rocha to the sea of fans filling The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for L.A. Rising on Saturday.
Rage Against the Machine has been fighting the good fight since they formed in Los Angeles in 1991. From the massive captivated audience to their blisteringly brilliant performance, it was clear that the quartet is also prevailing. Now, in this day and age, it would seem as if fans are more apathetic than ever, primarily downloading music instead of being it and showing more interest in their friends' Facebook statuses than the events going on the world. Seeing the crowd at L.A. Rising disproved that, as thousands flocked to get up front, holding onto every word of Rage's socially conscious set. Not only did audience members support by buying a ticket, they soaked it in like some sort of smartphone-touting Woodstock youth. Rage has always brought people together for a greater good, and their power to do so has only grown.
Somehow, their show has become even more vibrant, vicious, and visceral. After a video re-capping 20 years of their exploits and their effect on pop culture, the group launched into the schizophrenic stomp of "Testify" from The Battle of Los Angeles. Brad Wilk's airtight drumming gave flight to the tune as the band thrashed around the stage intensely and intently. Morello is an alchemist of anarchy of the purist kind, conjuring a wah-ed out guitar solo that was as unique as it was undeniable. Tim Commerford ripped through one impenetrable bass line after another adding a jazzy funky to the group's metallic hip-hop mastery. De la Rocha spearheaded the charge spitting his verses with a seamless flow and invigorating energy. The four elements collided into chemistry that we've only witnessed from musical legends like Led Zeppelin—who also always brought people together.
Morello and Commerford stood toe-to-toe in order to kick off "Bombtrack", which snapped into an roar of "Burn" from de la Rocha all the way to the streets of South Central outside the stadium. The only thing burning was the Olympic Torch above the venue, and it symbolically lit the way for another historic event. Morello melded shred and rap during "Know Your Enemy" while his feedback swells were reminiscent of the ocean rising on a swell before "Bulls on Parade". De la Rocha carried the chorus flawlessly causing everyone to jump up and down in unison with his words. During a final bridge, Wilk spun his drum stick just as Morello's wah pedal madness mounted and de la Rocha launched one final lyrical assault.
"Township Rebellion" snapped back and forth from rap swagger into heavy metal bludgeoning, while "Bullet in the Head" was so smooth it could've ignited a dance party. Before "Down Rodeo" knocked everyone out, de la Rocha declared, "This is the L.A. story, ya'll!"
"Guerilla Radio" was a revolutionary cry like no other and "Calm Like a Bomb" saw the band redefine what "progressive" means as they bent funk, hip-hop, electronic music, and metal all to their whim during the space of one tune.
Rage did all of this with four guys in front of a simple black backdrop with a red star. It's an old school tactic, and it still works as well as it did back in the day. Seeing a conscious crowd rocking out passionately to music really isn't a thing of the past. Fight the war, fuck the norm.
Were you there?