"The Battle of Atlanta", Dec. 9, 1999
Nothing beats a Rage show. The intensity of the band, and the utter insanity of the crowd mixed in creates nothing less than a greater-than-great show. I speak of Rage Against the Machine of course. I happened to attend the Atlanta, Thursday, Dec. 9, show at Phillip's Arena. And just so happened to be graced with the floor as a destination, more importantly, the pit. The good part: people picking you up out of the pit.
Anti-Flag opened at 7:30, a whole half hour before the tickets said opening acts started. They were incredibly trite and not good to put it plainly. True, what they believed mimicked Rage and the left wing completely, it was not a strong set, and so I have no liking for them, just cliche punk.
After Anti-Flag's little set, a couch was brought out and several plastic cabinet mock-ups were assembled for Gang Starr. Now this was cool. Gang Starr got the first pit going, suprisingly. It was the first time I had ever seen a pit to a rap act. Odd, I must say. Towards the end of their set, they got let out a few tributes to Tupac and the Notorious BIG, and then they went off on the crowd going for Rage. They started an arena-wide chant for the alltime band. Then they eventually receded and the wait began.
About a half-hour later, the crowd hjad gone through their third chanting for Rage, and the lights went down. Chaos ensued. The volume was full-blown, the intensity was off the wall, and the whole experience was unbelievable. As Rage walked out onstage, the crowd went nuts further. The forst words: "We're Rage Against the Machine from Los Angeles!" The banner fell revealing the "Battle of Atlanta" and the band ripped into "Testify." I swear, the pit was hell. The crowd was insane, and the uniform jumps began. Almost perfectly choreographed. The crowd, to say it again, was nuts. The band played at their fullest. By far, it was the best show I've ever attended, even if I was rendered unconcious for a few brief moments. The refrains were yelled, chanted, whatever. But the site to see was Zack's dive during "War Within a Breath." This guy jumped almost 6 feet across the rail into the crowd. The sad part is, it was where I would have been had I stayed and not had to recede to the back for a few moments to, you know, live and breath. Following that, the band left. And the wait began again for the encores. This was unbelievable. I guessed the encores in succession, and they did not let me down. "Bulls on Parade" was the greatest thing I had ever heard. I swear, it was the hardest-hitting song I ever experienced. The band was refeshed, the crowd was too, and the pit was the floor. No one was safe. The band was nuts. It was the most excitement all night. Following it up was "Freedom" which was heralded as great. The finale: "Killin' in tha Name." No explanation necessary, it was the last song of the night. The coolest part: Zack stared directly at me and just flicked me and the crowd off during the "Fuck you I won't do what ya tell me" chorus. Unbelievable. The best.
Set List: Testify Guerrilla Radio People of the Sun Calm Like a Bomb Bullet in the Head The Ghost of Tom Joad Sleep Now in the Fire Born of a Broken Man Know Your Enemy No Shelter War Within a Breath Encores: Bulls on Parade Freedom Killin' in tha Name
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