Rage Against the Machine – Buffalo, NY
July 25th, 2022
It’s been almost 23 years to the day since I last saw Rage Against the Machine at Woodstock ’99. Back then, I was a 19-year-old heading into my sophomore year of college and finally getting a change to see Rage at Woodstock was a dream come true. Along with countless other artists, that weekend was life-changing.
Shortly thereafter, Rage was slated to co-headline a tour with The Beastie Boys in the summer of 2000, which was sadly canceled due to Mike D’s shoulder injury. Sadly, Rage Against the Machine’s time as a recording and touring outfit wrapped up shortly thereafter.
In the years since, they’ve performed the odd show together, including a brief tour in 2008, but haven’t planned a tour this large 1999.
History aside, it’s fair to simply acknowledge that the vast majority of fans set to attend these shows have never seen Rage live before. Never mind the standard 2 year “COVID delay” that this tour, along with so many others have suffered. The excitement was palpable from the moment I arrived in downtown Buffalo. The local bars were overflowing with people gathered to attend the evenings show. Patios were blasting Rage Against the Machine everywhere and fans had made plans for the entire evening to celebrate this show.
The tour kicks off with Run the Jewels, I hip-hop act consisting of Killer Mike and El-P, both of whom have a rich history in the scene. While the arena was still filling in, the fans in attendance went wild for this duo’s act.
Right around 9:15 Rage Against the Machine took the stage. Vocalist Zach de la Rocha was assisted on stage, due to an earlier foot injury at the start of the tour. Sadly, he was confined to performing while seated for the duration of the evening, but the crowd was sure to provide enough energy to keep this party going from start to finish.
It’s worth noting that while any show comes with inherent risks (moshing, crowd surfing etc), this was the first time that a bands head of security notified us that if the crowd gets too wild and we (photographers) were deemed at risk, that they would clear the photo pit. Fortunately, this didn’t happen.
Rage kicked off their set with “Bombtrack” from their debut album, followed by “People of the Sun” and “Bulls on Parade,” both off their sophomore album, 1996’s ‘Evil Empire.’ The crowd was in a full-on frenzy at this point. Crowd surfers were coming over the barrier at a steady pace and it was clear why we got that warning before the show began.
I’m always in favor of bands creating new music when they reform, and we’ll see if that happens here in time. One benefit of dusting the boots off and coming out to play shows in this fashion, however, is that almost every song in the set is a classic. There wasn’t a single dull moment of the show.
After our four-songs were done in the pit, I checked my camera gear and went straight for the floor. I’d purchased my ticket back in early 2020, knowing I was going to the show whether I was fortunate enough to cover it or not.
Before long, I worked my way right up near the rail, found a bunch of my friends and even ended up finishing of the night on the rail for the last couple of songs. That’s a feeling that was long overdue and words could never do justice to the level of catharsis one gets from being in that moment with a band you’ve known since your teenage years. Oddly enough, my 42-year-old body faired just fine the next day, too.
The stage was setup fairly plane, but for a giant video screen that spanned the entire backdrop. Throughout the show, the screen alternated between live performance footage, political commentary and other video footage addressing current issues in the United States.
The show lasted all of 90 minutes, and included a huge span of additional hits including “Testify,” “Guerrilla Radio,” Know Your Enemy” and a monster of a closer in “Killing in the Name.” The only song they didn’t perform that I’d love to have seen was their cover of “Renegades of Funk” from their 2000 covers album, ‘Renegades.’
If you’re a fan of this band, you’ve got to have your ticket in-hand already, but if you’re at all curious, I can’t urge you enough to get out and catch this tour. Maybe it’s the start of a new era for Rage Against the Machine? Maybe this is a one-shot outing? We’ll see what the future brings, but in this moment, Rage is touring the United States and leaving a trail of absolute euphoria in their wake.
- People of the Sun
- Bulls on Parade
- Bullet in the Head
- Take the Power Back
- Wake Up
- Guerrilla Radio
- Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)
- Run the Jewels cover featuring Run the Jewels
- Down Rodeo
- Know Your Enemy
- Calm Like a Bomb
- Sleep Now in the Fire
- War Within a Breath
- The Ghost of Tom Joad
- Bruce Springsteen cover
- Township Rebellion
- Killing in the Name