Monday, February 9, 2009

The Greatest Concert Ever Told

The greatest concert I've ever seen was Rage Against the Machine at Lollapalooza in 2008. I had seen them perform four times prior to that, and this was tops by far. The '08 Lolla show was Rage at their peak, musically, as well as in their political feistiness (a historical election was looming just about two months away). Although no new material was presented, this was not a nostalgia act--their lyrical energy rang as true as it did in the early 90's when the words were originally written. Furthermore, there was no experimentation--the band and the audience were fully aware of each important beat in each song, allowing for a synergy of expectation and delivery that I have not seen before at a live concert. Every grunt, expletive, and stop-start became a palpable burst from the crowd. I've never seen a more seamless back-and-forth from musicians and concert goers than I did on that warm summer night in Chicago. The set list was spot on:

Bulls On Parade
People of the Sun
Know Your Enemy
Bullet In The Head
Born Of A Broken Man
Guerilla Radio
Ashes In The Fall
Calm Like A Bomb
Sleep Now In The Fire
Wake Up

Killing In The Name

They wasted no time at all, firing off two of their most raucous songs to kick off the show. Zach De La Rocha had to ask the crowd to ease up on the pushing and shoving, and something miraculous happened—they did. Everyone was on the same page. The band knew they had to play these songs, and the crowd knew they had to act in accordance with slam dancing, jumping, yelling, and fist-pumping.

Yes, Rage Against the Machine is my favorite band, so I admit bias, but this is a band that goes out there and earns every ounce of respect that I’ve given them. My only hope is that we haven’t seen the last of them—I want a new album. What better time than now?

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