Rage Against the Machine Reviews


intensity (defn.): a weekend with rage against the machine

11.27.99 palace of auburn hills, auburn hills, mi
11.29.99 maple leaf gardens, toronto, on

detroit rock city

with a mere 4 hours to get to detroit (which is usually a 5 hour drive from toronto), comrade terry kearnes and i hastily departed with defiant blood simmering in our veins. defying ontario and michigan automobile speed limit laws, we made the trek in record time, pumped to see the most innovative band of the decade, rage against the machine.

taking our seats halfway through gang starr’s set high in the nosebleeds, we attempted to settle down. however, a lifetime supply of ritalin could not settle this crowd, considering the massive floor rush from all sides 10 minutes prior to rage’s set. the floor was packed - and there was nothing security could do. suddenly the house lights dimmed, and michael moore - the king of all anti-media - took the stage to do the honours of introducing the band. his comments on local politics and the automobile sent the sold-out crowd into even more of a frenzy. moments later the band took the stage, and i have never felt such a rush of adrenaline in my life; an aura of intensity had filled the palace (which is an amazing venue) and captured all within, bringing the crowd on a rollercoaster of vigor unmatched by any other band of this decade.

ripping into “testify” and “guerilla radio”, zack, tim, tom and brad were definitely feeding off of the crowd’s energy, and spitting it right back into our faces to a far greater degree. every jump, scream, roll, solo, and riff was perfectly executed - a truly flawless performance. highlights included a longer version of “bullet in the head”, with an absolute killer solo courtesy of tom. the rare “ghost of tom joad” lyrically and musically captured the essence of this band - which is an unconventional, radical yet effective approach to rock and roll music and american society. this was definitely one of my favourites.

closing the set with “war within a breath” - the gigantic and powerful tribute to the zapatistas, the band walked off to a roar of applause, only to come back shortly after with an encore beginning with none other than “bulls on parade”. during the solo, zack shouted to the crowd, “yo check out my dj, y’all”, pointing at tom - and the crowd went insane. and tattooed firmly into my memory is during the outro of “killing in the name”, when the house lights lit up, suggesting to me that we are not subordinate to anyone - including the band - and unity is vital in bringing about change in our societies. all in all, a truly unforgettable show.

set list
testify
guerilla radio
people of the sun
calm like a bomb
bullet in the head
ghost of tom joad
sleep now in the fire
born of a broken man
know your enemy
no shelter
war within a breath
-----------------
bulls on parade
freedom
killing in the name
the battle of toronto

two days later i found myself yet again at the mercy of my generation’s bob dylan, rage against the machine. but this time it was the show in my hometown, at the legendary maple leaf gardens, and i knew this was going to be one of the greatest performances i would ever witness in my life.

maple leaf gardens is indeed a shrine in toronto, and even to see rage against the machine play there had sentimental value to a lot of the crowd. gang starr again did a wicked job in pumping up the crowd, keeping a chill hip-hop vibe in the joint. but yet again, this crowd was “calm like a bomb”, with a short fuse ready to be lit be either a zach scream, a tom solo, a brad roll, or a tim boom.

the bomb exploded when tom ripped into “testify” - toronto truly loves rage, and it was obvious by the smile on zack’s face that rage loves toronto. a smile cracked the frontman’s angst-driven facade, when, during “people of the sun”, a fan upfront held up an ezln banner. after detroit i didn’t think i’d ever see the band that pumped while performing again, but at mlg they topped their previous intensity level in detroit.

the set was almost identical, which was somewhat disappointing. but in the end i could not complain about this show. brad seemed to be kicking out harder beats and throwing in funkier rolls and fills, with more than adequate support from tim. the rhythm section definitely shone at mlg. the sound quality was way better, and despite minor feedback and timing glitches this was again a flawless performance. proof again that nothing could ever top rage against the machine live.

set list
testify
guerilla radio
people of the sun
calm like a bomb
bullet in the head
ghost of tom joad
sleep now in the fire
born of a broken man
know your enemy
no shelter
war within a breath
---------------
bulls on parade
roll right (slow version) > freedom
killing in the name

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