The Battle of New York- Rage at the Nassau Coliseum, 12/3/99
The first lines formed around the venue about an hour and a half before the show began. Luckily I had arrived early enough to be up against the barricades right in front of the stage. At this point there was reasonable elbowroom. The floor wasn't at all filled even into the first act. There were backwards red Yankees caps and Durst goatees everywhere. Not long after seats began to fill up, the coliseum went pitch black, the stage lit up, and Tom came out to greet the crowd. His voice was hard to hear over the thousands of eager fans: "Good evening, my name is Tom Morello. I'd like to introduce one of our favorite bands in the world, 'At the Drive In.'"
In came the band. One of the guitarists and the singer, who were both skinny white boys, had huge Afros. The performance was that of a stereotypical contemporary punk band. They were hard, fast, and extremely energetic. I enjoyed their set. The crowd however was for the most part dead. So much so in fact that I found people on the floor right next to me sitting down with their heads buried in their laps.
After 'At the Drive In' hundreds of people rushed down from their seats into the general admission area. The people at the periphery were forced closer and closer together. Because it was so over-crowded there were a ridiculous amount of people crowd-surfing, trying to get out. Gangstarr then came on, and before which they reminded us that they were playing in their hometown. As each of the members of the group came out, they kept on taunting the crowd, telling us that if the pit, which was as insane as I thought it could get, didn't liven up, rage wouldn't come out, that the pit was a joke.
I really don't know how many people rushed into the floor after Gangstarr, but it was far more than the first time. Moving was impossible and breathing was difficult. I was pumped just like the people around me though, and the band that I had come to experience would soon be on.
Zach wore the same shirt that he had worn when I met him at the New York City Virgin Megastore signing. Tom had his Boy Scout shirt on from the Guerilla Radio video, Tim wore a blue tank top, and Brad had a sleeveless shirt with the red star logo.
After Zach's introduction they started Testify and when the vocals entered a covering dropped which revealed a "Battle of New York" banner. Tom unleashed a new solo during 'Bullet in the Head,' which was cut down by one whole verse, as was 'Ghost of Tom Joad.' One of the kinder more considerate security guards sprayed the people in the front of the floor section with water throughout the set, which we gladly welcomed.
After 'Bulls on Parade' during the encore, a speech accompanied by music similar to 'Zapata's Blood' was performed. Zach spoke of "our brothers and sisters" who were wrongfully put in jail. The other lyrics made it obvious that he was speaking about Mumia Abu-Jamal though Zach never once said his name. They ended beautifully with 'Killing in the Name.' It was by far the best concert I've been to. That night proved to me that there is no other group of people that can express so much passion power and meaning into a show like Rage Against the Machine can.
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