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Rage Against The Machine in Hollywood

By David Carr, Contributor
Monday, August 2, 2010 @ 8:02 PM

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After ten years without a show in Los Angeles (Coachella and San Bernardino’s Rock the Bells don’t count) Rage Against The Machine reunited for a concert in Hollywood. The catalyst bringing the band together was the recent anti-illegal immigration bill created in Arizona; SB1070. While many feel the law will be a deterrent to illegal immigration in Arizona, the specific language of the law, may open the flood gates to racial profiling in the state. A number of grass roots organizations have been established to battle the law. Legal challenges over its constitutionality and compliance with civil rights law have been filed, including one by the United States Department of Justice. The left leaning rap/rock pioneers decided to stage a benefit show to raise money and awareness with regards to the problematic law. Proceeds from the show went to immigrant’s rights organizations, including the Florence Project and Puente, Arizona. The show started off with a Mexican folk band made up of day laborers and then one of the other sponsors of the show, Conor Oberst took the stage next with his Mystic Valley Band.

After a brief intermission and a few impassioned speeches, Rage Against The Machine hit the stage and like four powder kegs of dynamite, proceeded to explode inside the Hollywood venue. The band is still the most powerful, heavy rock group in a live setting and they can still seamlessly blend the Clash, Black Sabbath and Public Enemy like no other. Bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk are the hardest working rhythm section in modern rock. Guitarist Tom Morello stabbed and jabbed at his guitar making it sound like a rapid fire machine gun, an air raid siren and two turntables all night long while Zack De La Rocha solidified his place along side Bob Marley and Chuck D as one of the most charismatic frontmen, in the business. From the first note they played the group had the audience in the palm of their hand but when the band ripped into “Bulls on Parade” and their tribute to jailed former Black Panther, Mumia Abu Jamal “Guerilla Radio” the intensity of the night reached a fever pitch. Rage has always been a band with a direct, left of center, political message. At times, the band’s message has been a bit short sighted, but during the song “Wake Up” vocalist/rapper Zack De La Rocha delivered possibly his most balanced speech/diatribe of his career. De La Rocha declared that the Arizona law did nothing more than scapegoat the immigrant community and blame them for the economic woes the country is facing. He implored the audience to internalize the concept that it has been corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG and not immigrants who have been responsible for the economic plight the United States is now in.

By raising over $400,000 for various immigrant rights groups in Arizona and by inciting a true dialog about SB 1070, Rage Against The Machine may at long last understand that sometimes you may have to reason with the machine, in order to articulately rage against it.

Photo by Karen Curley

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