CYPRESS HILL/RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE/7 YEAR BITCHWest Pavillion Indianapolis, Indiana
November 24, 1993
Thanksgiving Eve in the heart of the Heartland. Turkeys are basted lovingly; a few miles from here, one Quayle readies his memoirs while another sleeps with visions of the Indiana governor's mansion dancing in her head. Not far from this converted livestock barn (no chairs; we are cattle), in nearby Morocco, Indiana, ten high school boys have been suspended over a dispute involving their female classmates' hip-hop fashion choices. "This is a -white- community," comments 16-year-old Brandon Belt. "If they don't want to be white, they should leave."
This is the backdrop against which Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha finds himself tonight. Which is why, when he leads a chorus of "Fuck the norm, fuck the norm" during "Township Rebellion," and the 3,000 cattle momentarily mass levitate, it feels not like a chant but like a first resort; as reasonable a response to the world outside as "stop the insanity." Been there, done that, political music, blah blah blah, I know. But for at least one hour, Rage felt like the most important band on the planet- a lean, mean fighting Machine built from the same fully warranted parts that make the Dead Kennedys, the Clash, Helmet, and Public Enemy tick.
Led by de la Rocha, a dreadlocked Chicano rubber-band man who commandeered the stage like a speed-fed ghost of Bob Marley, and the utterly staggering guitarist Tom Morello (whose mother Mary Morello, founder of the anti-censorship group Parents for Rock & Rap, introduced the band), Rage was one tough act to follow, a far more formidable lead-in than House of Pain was on Cypress Hill's "Soul Assassins" tour last year. Where House of Pain made Cypress sound like phonky visionaries, Rage made them look like Larry, Mo, and Curly.
Which isn't to say that Cypress wasn't its usual lovable cartoon-incendiary self. They played all my favorites, and I even mouthed the words to a couple. But to tell you the truth, I didn't feel like grooving, I didn't feel like parroting "Yeah!" when B-Real asked us if we were feelin' good, and when they rolled out the giant spliff prop on stage, I didn't want to get high, sooo high. See, earlier in the night, as 7 Year Bitch slowly won me over with its opening set, a shirtless frat-Hoosier hollered, "Show us your tits, bitch," and everyone around me hooted. That, and the knowledge that this aspiring young bigot in Bumfuck, Indiana, would sit down to a white Thanksgiving the next day got me insane in the brain, and starved for two things: more rage, and more Rage.
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