Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rage Against The Machine Still Raising A Fist To Establishment Politics

For two weeks straight, both in Denver and in Minneapolis, Rage Against the Machine, a rap-metal band formed in 1991 and known for its big noise and ferocious politics, formed an ad-hoc convention in opposition to both major parties. Although the band has been a significant commercial success — three of its albums in the 1990s attained multiplatinum status — radical politics have always been baked into their music.

The band members’ notoriety grew in 1996 when they tried to hang upside-down flags on their amps during a two-song set on “Saturday Night Live” — a performance that was cut short, and became something of a theme. Shortly after a concert at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles in 2000 that ended in clashes with the police, the band broke up, then reunited in 2007 at the Coachella music festival.

At both the Democratic and Republican conventions this year, Rage led marches, performed through megaphones when prevented from taking their stage, and generally agitated against the politics of convention and the conventions themselves.

None of this would be especially noteworthy — cause musicians reflexively congregate around political events — but Rage has millions of fans whose ardor has not been diminished by the band’s not putting out a record in eight years. The group’s insistent calls to action, in song and from the stage, still fall on receptive ears. Some of its hard-core fans are less prone to buying T-shirts than engaging in the kind of civil disobedience that sometimes ends in tear gas.

The Democratic convention opened with a free Rage show at the Denver Coliseum in support of Iraq Veterans Against the War, with the band’s lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, kicking into “Guerilla Radio.” “It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime,” he sang, “What better place than here?”

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Bless them.
Thanks E. for the heads up.

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