After work on Tuesday night, I walked a few blocks down 7th Avenue and went to go see Rage Against The Machine at Madison Square Garden (courtesy of Gametime, use promo code MMB for $20 off your first purchase) for the very first time in my life.
Rage Against The Machine have been one of my favorite bands of all time since I was introduced to them by my older brother as a really little kid. Of course, I had no fuckin idea what their lyrical content was all about back then, but I knew the band brought an energy and intensity like no other, that Tim Commerford's bass tone was my favorite I'd ever heard, and I was fully aware that Tom Morrello was more than just a guitar player right away - he's some kind of mystical guitar wizard, or GOD, even, with the sounds he gets outta that thing.
That just made my eventual guitar battle against him in Guitar Hero 3 all the more daunting….
For most of my adult life, Rage Against The Machine has been broken up, and I'd always dreamed of seeing them. Behind Oasis, I'd saw they were probably the #2 band I was really craving a reunion tour from - and that's something that I've mentioned in blogs here more than once over the past five years. I would just watch live video after live video on YouTube imagining what it'd be like to be in the middle of that chaos.
I finally got my wish when the band announced a reunion tour in November of 2019, slated to kick off in the Spring of 2020…..and we all know how that went. The "Public Service Announcement" Tour was delayed to 2021, and then 2022 later on, only making my desire to see the band stronger as the days passed. I know how Zack de la Rocha and this band operate - you can't take them being together for granted at any point, cause it could end at any moment. I just wanted them to make it back on stage before they broke up again!
In fact, I overheard plenty of Rage fans at the show on Tuesday night say that they believed this would be the band's final tour, but that the band won't announce/market it as such. I have no idea if that's the case, but it wouldn't surprise me. Everyone's gettin older and you simply can't bring that same intensity into your 60s/70s. The guy sitting next to me was a superfan who said he was going to multiple shows during Rage's five-night run at MSG just in case this was the end.
There was an older gay couple sitting directly in front of me, dressed to the nines, and it honestly seemed as if they bought tickets on a whim just to take in a new experience or something. They were captivated by all the mosh pits and brash language, taking plenty of videos on their phones, I could see them literally gasping at some of the lyrics (which cracked me up) - they were great.
At one point, though, right before Run The Jewels took the stage, one of them turned to the guy sitting next to me, and said, "I've heard this show gets very political at times."
Uhhhh yeah buddy. I'd say so.
Run The Jewels opened with a killer performance that got everybody in the crowd going, and then, around 9:15pm, Rage Against The Machine took the stage.
I wasn't sure what the energy in the building would be like, as this was sure to be an older crowd - and with Zack de la Rocha doing his entire performance seated (as he injured his foot on the second night of the tour) - but I was a fool to think it'd be anything less than insane.
I've been to dozens of concerts at the Garden, and I've been everywhere from the nosebleeds to the floor to the lower bowl to side-stage, but I've never felt the building physically shake and vibrate like it did on Tuesday night.
Rage got up there, went right into 'Bombtrack', and Zack said pretty much the only thing he said to the crowd all night: "This is a public service announcement - we are Rage Against The Machine from Los Angeles, California!"
What followed was an hour and a half of in-your-face rock n' roll of the highest intensity. No breaks for chit-chat, no encore - just banger after banger after banger. It was astounding, and felt like a performance out of a movie or something. I've never seen anything like it.
Zack de la Rocha undoubtedly brings more energy from a seated position than 99% of frontmen do standing up, and he's truly got the aura of a legendary rockstar up on that stage. Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, Rage's rhythm section, are as strong as any in rock music in my eyes, and give Flea and Chad Smith a run for their money right now. The way they are able to fill the musical space during Tom's guitar solos and keep the ferocity of the song where it needs to be is mind blowing. Then there's Tom Morrello himself; watching him execute his iconic solos to perfection live (nailing the tone so well you'd think it was a backing track) was simply awe-inspiring. In the midst of Rage absolutely tearing the house down, you can't help but think these four guys were put on this planet to do this with each other.
I legitimately didn't want the concert to end. When it did end, though, it ended with a BANG….
Since the concert, it's all I've been able to think about, and Rage Against The Machine has been the only band in my headphones.
It's experiences like that one that I live for, and I can't thank Gametime enough for making this dream come true for me. They're an amazing ticketing app that lets you score the best last-minute deals on concerts, games, shows, whatever - and they support Barstool a ton. Download the app, create an account, and then use the promo code MMB for $20 off your first purchase (terms apply). I'd recommend going to see Rage Against The Machine on the final few dates of the "Public Service Announcement" Tour at Madison Square Garden.
P.S. Please spare us all the, "Oh you mean that band that Rages FOR The Machine now?!" boomer-chirps in the comments. We've all seen that by now. We have Facebook too. I don't care if you vehemently disagree with the band's politics (which you very well may, as they're an insanely polarizing politically-charged group), but Rage Against The Machine has literally been "FUCK THE COPS: The Band" since well before I was born. Maybe give their debut album a re-listen before you accuse them of flip-flopping.