On July 12th, living music legends Rage Against the Machine announced they would be banding together once again to throttle the LA masses at the Hollywood Palladium on Friday, July 23rd. The motive of the show was a benefit effort for organizations opposing SB 1070, Arizona’s newly inculcated immigration law, which intends to identify, prosecute, and deport illegal citizens from the country. Politics and positions on them aside, this writer can only say as a living witness of the show, what followed on the night of July 23rd was nothing short of pure, sweet, undiluted pandemonium.
RATM once again in a single blow has shown other “political” rock bands such as Pennywise, Bad Religion, and (sigh) Green Day the proper form for instilling “rebellion” into the populace. Sharing the stage with Rage were Mexican cumbia group, Los Jornaleros Del Norte and singer-songwriter Connor Oberst, with The Mystic Valley Band in tow. Both opening bands received fairly positive responses, considering the styles and genres of the aforementioned bands were on the furthest fringe from anything you’d conclude as being present when thinking of a RATM concert. The conflicting brands of music produced its fair share of opposition from random members of the audience. Some jeering, naysayers, and a stray beer cup being thrown to the stage aside, the crowd welcomed the openers and their stances on the matter with open arms, and an accompanying bear hug.
All this however was a mere whetting of the appetite for the main event. Post the first two band’s completion of their sets, a growing tension began to swell in the belly of the Palladium. From minutes before the house lights dimmed, the already ravenous crowd called out in growing anticipation. Upon the band’s signature red star flag rising from the back of the stage, the mass of bodies in the room churned, welling into an almost palpable singular entity. The heat and rising energy of the crowd intensified with the sound effect of fallout sirens baying from the sound system – as if the crowd itself was a kind of living implement of mass destruction. Seconds later as the four silhouettes of Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford, and Zach De La Rocha took the stage, the audience boiled over with vocal chord crushing screams. With the rise and steady drum beat with accompanying bass and distant screech of Morello’s guitar, Rage assembled their arsenal of sound to match their army of devoted fans as their opening anthem“Testify” resounded into the dark night of the LA sky. The first burst of sound with the aid of Zach’s commanding vocals served as the primary charge that detonated the entire crowd, sending the entire Hollywood venue into a frenzy, and thus marking the start of what I will now and forevermore refer to as “The Pandemonium in the Palladium”.
What followed was a series of Rage favorites such as “Bomb Track”, “People of the Sun”, a cover of The Clash’s “White Riot”, “Guerilla Radio”, and (my personal favorite) “Bulls on Parade” to name only a few. During the set, Zach (in classic fashion) took a moment to convey a few sentiments on SB 1070, expressing his ever-passionate disapproval on it along the situation in Arizona, referring to it as “an insult to our collective intelligence”. This served as little more than fuel for the already peaking inferno, as they then proceeded to wind the night down with legendary rebellion tracks “Wake Up”, “Freedom” and “Killing in the Name”, that only
served to exacerbate the already riled masses. Despite it being their first show in their LA home base in a decade, RATM’s performance held all the precision, intensity, and emotion that fans have come to know and love since first coming onto the scene in 1991. It only required a few scant moments of audible observation to tell they still carry with them the ineffable ability to incite, impassion, inspire, and amaze any crowd they come across.
The night of course wouldn’t have been complete however without a bit of outside interference from authority-type figures. Upon the show’s completion, those in attendance walked outside to meet a small group LAPD cars to observe the precession from Sunset Blvd. It is this writer’s opinion that if the sight of the squad cars and overtly irked expressions on the police officer’s faces didn’t evoke a grin of satisfaction from Zach on yet another mission accomplished, I’m certain the police helicopter that was circling the Palladium did.