After two weekend shows at the saccharine Universal Amphitheatre, L.A.’s Rage Against the Machine, perhaps rock music’s most successful overtly leftist band, brought its brutal songs of racial oppression and pending revolution back to Hollywood to issue the loud-and-clear message: “Take the power back.”
Grassroots groups, protesting everything from police brutality to current marijuana laws, distributed information outside the sold-out venue, a rare scene at a pop concert and a credit to Rage, a band that’s always put as much emphasis on its politics as its music.
But RATM’s blend of caustic raps and fiery post-metal riffing filled a 90-minute show that was (thankfully) short on preaching and long on inspiration and emotion.
The band offered a cross-section of songs from its two Epic albums, as well as a couple of rare treats: a medley of Public Enemy’s rap classic “Black Steel (In the Hour of Chaos)” with their own tale of vengeance, “Bullet in the Head,” as well as “Genocide,” their cut from “The Crow” soundtrack.
Underlying the musical madness, though, is the group’s ever-present political goals, namely the emergence of what they see as mistreated minorities, namely the Zapatista rebels in southern Mexico and Native Americans.
As with any Rage show, differentiating between the members’ honest political beliefs and the anger-as-entertainment that the young audience (which was little more than a virtual mosh pit) expects was sometimes tricky. But when an audience is as dedicated to the “cause” as this crazed bunch was, the point is rendered moot.