Rage Against the Machine Reviews

RATM, New Orleans, Dec. 11, 1999

My friends and I arrived at UNO Lakefront arena at about 6:00, a good two hours before the show. We all had balcony seats, so we wanted to make sure we got as close as possible. After claiming my tickets from the will call booth (Ticketmaster didn't send me my tickets from my online order..but I will save my complaints about Ticketmaster for another time), we headed inside.

I immediately hit the t-shirt booth and picked up a black Rage Twith the band plaing live on it, as well as a sticker with the black flag/red star logo on it. I really wish they would've made a T-Shirt with that design, actually. Upon entering the concert area, we immediately noticed the cool huge black flag/red star banners on both sides of the stage. We were about as close as you could get from the stage in the balcony, and had a clear view of everything. The wait for Rage began.

At around 7:45, Anti-Flag came on. They were actually pretty interesting. Musically, they had very little new to say (basic three chord punk rock, oi oi oi, etc.), but did play with enthusiasm and took the opportunity to say some things about the demonstrations in Seattle. They mentioned the way the police treated the protestors and dedicated a song of theirs, "Fuck Police Brutality" to everyone involved in the anti-WTO demonstrations.

Next up was GangStarr. They were also pretty good, and they gave major props to Rage throughout the show. They brought out a myriad of rappers, including a guy whose name i can't remember (he was wearing a red sweatshirt) who sounded a bit like Method Man. Overall, they did a good job of getting the crowd ready for Rage.

After what seemed like an endless wait, Rage came on. Here is the set list, as best I can remember.

Guerilla Radio
People Of The Sun
Calm Like A Bomb
Bullet In The Head
Sleep Now In The Fire
Born Of A Broken Man
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Know Your Enemy
No Shelter
War Within A Breath
Bulls On Parade
Weird Re-Working of Roll Right
Killing in The Name Of

As soon as the band broke into "Testify", the pit went absolutely crazy. Guerilla Radio was very well recieved, and we had the first of many sing-a-long parts during the "It has to start sometime" bit.

Calm Like A Bomb was intense, with Tom reproducing the insane verse guitar very well and the crowd singing the "What ya say" part along with Zach.

Bullet in The Head was the first song where things were absolutely stunning. Everyone seemed to know every word in the song, and the crowd completely lost it during the part where Zach screams "A bullet in your head!" at the end of the song. I've never seen a band and a crowd so completely gel and mutually just go crazy. Very exciting stuff, and we weren't even half finished.

Things certainly didn't let up with "Sleep Now In The Fire" a song that just lends itself to jumping around. Zach really screamed the "Swallow the one, that makes you ill" part. "Born Of Broken Man" was also excellent. You could sense the emotion in Zach's voice during the verses, and the choruses just absolutely exploded. "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" gave the audience a chance to briefly rest during the verses, and the crowd got into the "You'll see me" part at the end.

It was around this time that Zach scolded some idiots in the front for harassing some of the women in the crowd, and he threatened to throw any further offenders out of the show. They tore into "Know Your Enemy" next, and during the intro, Zach asked everyone to raise their fists and wave them back and forth, and of course everyone complied. Tom really showed his stuff on the solo. Another extremely intense moment came at the end of the 2nd verse, where Zach let the crowd sing the "Wedon't need the key, we'll break in" part. It's pretty amazing to hear 8-10,000 people say this at once. The set concluded with powerful versions of "No Shelter" and "War Within A Breath".

After a few minutes, the guys returned with "Bulls On Parade", which really whipped up the crowd.

Next came a bit of a suprise. The guys started jamming on a riff I'd never heard before. Zach was facing the drums the whole time. Eventually I made out some of the lyrics to "Roll Right". It was interesting, but certainly the least entertaing few minutes of the evening.

Anyone who got bored with that, however, was quickly brought back by a crushing version of "Freedom" which was of course dedicated to Mumia. Finally, the band played it's signature "Killing in the Name Of". I won't say much about it, for those of you who have yet to see Rage. But basically, you have not lived until you have seen and heard 10,000 people all give two middle fingers and scream "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" about 10 times at the top of thier lungs. The feeling of being part of that is indescribable.

After the show, as I was leaving, people were still cheering and singing. I've never seen a crowd still so excited after the show. People were still chanting "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" and the show had been over for about 15 minutes. Truly amazing. If you can go see Rage, definitely do it. It is well worth it.

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