5 Reasons to See Rage Against The Machine Live This Summer

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The post 5 Reasons to See Rage Against The Machine Live This Summer appeared first on Consequence.

Back in 2020, the timing for a Rage Against The Machine reunion couldn’t have been more appropriate: after nine years away and ahead of a symbolic and high-stakes election, the Los Angeles quartet decided it was time to be back in front of the people once again to serve politically-charged catharsis en masse.

But of course, the pandemic offset Rage’s tour plans by not one, but two years, and even compared to 2020, the world is quite different than it once was. Luckily, attendees at Rage Against The Machine’s tour stop at Festival d’été de Québec in Québec City didn’t let the 11-year absence hinder an amazing time on Saturday evening (July 16th).

The festival itself is a true experience — rather than erect a typical three or four-day festival on one large plot of land within the city, Festival d’été de Québec feels more classic, with 12 days of music spanning multiple genres, two side stages adjacent to the province’s parliament, and a behemoth of a main stage situated on a hill-covered field, creating a natural amphitheater for tens and thousands of attendees.

It deserves to be noted that this festival — particularly Saturday, the day Rage Against The Machine played — was so jam-packed with people that it felt like this was the chief cultural event for anyone within a 100 mile radius of Québec City. And with fellow ’90s icons Alanis Morrissette and Garbage gracing the stage the night before Rage, people of all ages were flocking to these unforgettable shows.

Though this show was a bit different than many anticipated — mainly due to the fact that Rage frontman Zack de la Rocha injured his leg during the second stop of their reunion tour in Chicago — it was still a welcome return from the band. After being literally carried on stage, de la Rocha was seated front and center throughout the show, ever the enthusiastic vocalist, and though he couldn’t quite stomp around like Tom Morello and Tim Commerford could, he brought as much energy as possible.

Rage Against the Machine Chicago concert review
Rage Against the Machine Chicago concert review

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Rage Against the Machine Powerfully Soldier On in Chicago Despite Zack de la Rocha’s Leg Injury: Review, Pics + Video


If you’re still on the fence for attending one of the many dates of Rage Against The Machine’s reunion tour, here are five reasons to go (get tickets here).

It’s Been Too Long:

Plain and simple, 11 years is a long time to be away. Though Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford formed the supergroup Prophets of Rage with members from Public Enemy and Cypress Hill several years ago, the visceral energy of Rage Against The Machine is unmatched. This is a band whose output has only grown more significant over time — it’s fascinating to consider not just their overall affect on alternative music of the ’90s and the political sentiments that came with the period, but the way the band blended rap and rock so uniquely that they forged their own new genre.

At times their show felt like a classic, riff-filled, heavy metal blitz; other times, de la Rocha’s fierce bars brought us back into the house of hip-hop, with powerful intellect and creative word play galore. But overall, in the landscape of modern rock music, Rage Against The Machine’s untouchable legacy is clear in their polemical combination of genres and ideas, their proudly political statements, and their masterful sense of urgency.

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, photo by Amy Harris

They Meet The Moment:

Zack de la Rocha and the rest of the band have never been strangers to speaking truth to power, and the political moment we find ourselves in has never been more fraught. Rage Against The Machine are back to tell us that this rage we feel toward the powers that be, is, in fact, valid, and that our power as a collective is our only weapon to dismantle the systems that pit us against each other while favoring the ultra wealthy.

At Festival d’été de Québec, rather than display the messages shown in their previous US shows about the dangers and consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the band chose to share a message about the unacceptable treatment and discrimination against the indigenous people of Canada. The messages detailed how much more likely indigenous people are to be arrested, murdered, or missing compared to white people, ending with the phrases “settler-colonialism is murder,” and “land back.” Time will tell if each message will be catered to more of the specific issues that are prevalent in each city they tour in, but the sentiment was extremely powerful.

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, photo by Amy Harris

As the band finished their set and prepared for the blistering closer “Killing In the Name,” de la Rocha urged the crowd to not let the people in power set us back to a time where segregation and discrimination is legal, especially for women and people who can give birth. The band’s frustration was palpable and gripping, and though de la Rocha couldn’t physically stand up for the message, his presence and his words loomed large. This is a band whose anti-capitalist messages may have been novel at the time, but now, they speak a very urgent truth to many members of Gen X, Millenials, and Gen Z — in a time where our leaders are insistent on rolling us back to the past and halting any real change to the system, it’s refreshing and cathartic to feel Rage Against The Machine so urgently demanding progress.

They’re A Tight-Knit Quartet:

De la Rocha’s seated position may have been odd, but it created a very interesting dynamic between him and Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk. Though Morello and Commerford were restless on their feet, they never strayed too far from de la Rocha and Wilk, giving the impression that the band was operating from a tighter, more intimate place together. Often, each individual member of a rock band will be off in their own universe playing a show, but that was certainly not the case with Rage Against The Machine. Each member was thoroughly engaged, constantly listening to each other, and full of smiles and wacky facial expressions (the latter mostly from Morello).

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, photo by Amy Harris

Furthermore, it deserves to be noted that when bands are at the stature of Rage’s, with loads of cash to tour with and a clear-cut legacy, they’ll add a second guitarist or keyboard player to pick up some of the slack. Rage Against The Machine have never been that kind of band, and the unity between its four members made it puzzling as to why they ever broke up in the first place. When you consider the way both Commerford and Morello oscillate between blistering unison riffs and polar opposites, it’s clear that the band’s succinct musical language is built from that push and pull.

They Play All Of The Hits:

If you need any more convincing, take a look at the setlists for Rage Against The Machine’s recent shows: they’re pulling out all their biggest songs, one after the other. Their show at Festival d’été de Québec featured their first performance of “Take the Power Back” in nearly 15 years, and only their second performance of it since 1997. Needless to say, the messages of that song in particular were appropriate for the moment.

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, photo by Amy Harris

Elsewhere in the set, the band pulled out many tracks from their incredible self-titled debut, which de la Rocha reminded the crowd “turns 30 years old this year.” The band also began their set with “Bombtrack,” a visceral opener that seemed to scream “this is what you’ve been missing for 15 years.” This writer in particular was looking forward to seeing tracks from their final LP, 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles: getting to witness the barnstorming riffs of “Testify,” “Guerrilla Radio and “Sleep Now In The Fire” in real time was unforgettable, and it made the show all the more exciting.

@consequence

Zack may have been seated for the entire show, but RATM still brought the energy ⚡️ #rage #ratm #rageagainstthemachine #festivals #90s

♬ original sound – consequence

But the crowd sing-a-longs and ensuing freakouts during major hits like “Bulls On Parade” and “Killing In The Name” were truly special; these are songs with ongoing legacies that everyone could participate in, and rock-loving crowd wasn’t letting a minute of it go to waste.

It Won’t Last Forever:

As amazing as it was to see the band in full force again, the show was also a reminder of their ephemeral qualities — the band has very deliberately refrained from major tours over the years, opting instead for side projects and an appropriate period of rest after a decade of exposure. After their tour concludes next year, it’s unknown when, or how, the band will unite — new music being, for lack of a better phrase, out of the question.

Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, photo by Amy Harris

So, getting this opportunity to see a legacy band that hasn’t lost any steam, as well as being able to participate in a cathartic expression of our own political frustrations, is incredibly special. There were mosh pits and high energy romps, yes, but there were also tears of joy and understanding, a true relishing in the moment, that only the biggest stars are able to conjure. Rage Against The Machine at Festival d’été de Québec last weekend was not only one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, it was a well-needed release — something that we could all use right now. Even if you have to shell out a few more dollars than you’d like, it’s absolutely worth it. After all, we might not get a tour like this for another 11 years.

Check out RATM’s remaining tour dates below, and grab tickets via Ticketmaster.

Rage Against the Machine 2022 Tour Dates:
07/19 – Hamilton, ON @ FirstOntario Centre ^
07/21 — Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena ^
07/23 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena ^
07/25 – Buffalo, NY @ KeyBank Center ^
07/27 – Cleveland, OH @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse ^
07/29 – Pittsburgh, PA @ PPG Paints Arena ^
07/31 – Raleigh, NC @ PNC Arena ^
08/02 – Washington DC @ Capital One Arena ^
08/03 – Washington DC @ Capital One Arena ^
08/08 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden ^
08/09 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden ^
08/11 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden ^
08/12 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden ^
08/14 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden ^

^ = w/ Run the Jewels

5 Reasons to See Rage Against The Machine Live This Summer
Paolo Ragusa

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