Rage Against the Machine angry as ever in first show in 11 years
Though they haven't released any original music this millennium, Rage Against the Machine sound more urgently relevant than when they debuted 30 years ago.
In their first show together in 11 years, Zach De La Rocha and co. played all the hits but kept their most provocative messages for a video screen onstage, such as a direct jab at the recent gutting of Roe v. Wade: "Abort the Supreme Court."
At the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin on July 9, Rage channeled their, well... rage, into not just their music but the videos accompanying them — eschewing speeches for some powerful imagery.
"Forced birth in a country that is the only wealthy country in the world without any guaranteed paid parental leave at the national level," began a series of captions flashing across the screen. "Forced birth in a country where Black birth-givers experience maternal mortality two to three times higher than that of white birth-givers. Forced birth in a country where gun violence is the number one cause of death among children and teenagers."
The captions culminated in the call to "abort" SCOTUS, in all caps.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, other clips shown included "a border patrol agent posing menacingly with a barking German Shepherd; an El Paso police van burning in slow motion; a boy with a ski mask kneeling in front of a bull; and a boy with a blindfold busting open a piñata that looked like an ICE agent."
Rage donated $475,000 from tickets proceeds from the Alpine Valley show and two shows in Chicago to reproductive rights organizations in Wisconsin and Illinois.
After releasing their last album of originals with 1999's The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage Against the Machine broke up the following year with De La Rocha's departure. Various side projects later, the members of Rage occasionally reunited for a gig or two over the years. Their last live performance together was at 2011's L.A. Rising festival. The band had planned to make a comeback two years ago ahead of the presidential election but ... something happed in 2020 ...not sure what, but Rage had to postpone their reunion.
And in the intervening years, well, there has been quite a bit at which to rage. At Alpine Valley, during their 1992 anti-police brutality anthem "Killing in the Name," De La Rocha changed the lyrics to reflect the complicity of politicians, adding that they are "the same that burn crosses."