The ever so famous Greg Young.
As he is the one that will guide you
through this convoluted mess.
Raging, Ripping Up the Stage And...
It was December 16th, 1999, the day of the Rage Against the Machine concert. While I have been a Rage fan, there have been two concerts, both of which I have missed. This was the day I could redeem those missed chances by going to their concert at America West Arena. My English teacher at the time said she was going to the Rage concert, so I had to live with the fact that I was attending my first Rage concert and that my English teacher would be there. We planned on going in a large group of six people. My brother and his two friends joined my friends, AJ and Adam, and myself. My friends and I were sitting in a different area than my brother and his friends, so we did not converse with them other than the beginning and end of the concert.
As we arrived in downtown Phoenix, we noticed a very large crowd that would not allow us to park near the Arena. Our parking spot would be about a half-mile from the destination. On our way to the Arena, we stopped off at Burger King to eat some food. At the place, we saw some guy trying to sell Rage shirts for $15. I did not buy one because they usually sell shirts at their concerts for $10. The concert would be next on the agenda, so we headed that way.
We reached about thirty minutes before it started, so we bought t-shirts to remember the historic day. My friends and I took our seats, a place where we thought we would be watching the concert from. The minutes expired and the lights dimmed. In almost a sudden movement, my friends and I rushed the pit, jumped over the fence-like obstruction and landed on the floor. I saw AJ behind me, but it seemed like I had lost Adam. The opening band was Gangstarr, some old-school rap band. They really did a bad job at entertaining the audience other than giving a speech on quarters. “Hey guys! Stop throwing quarters, it could hurt people,” one of the members said. I thought it was quite funny and most other people did too. Soon they were finished with their set, and it was Rage Against the Machine’s time to tear it up.
The set change seemed like hours, but during that time we found Adam hanging in the stands for some reason. We flagged him over to us, and we were soon to see him jump the wall in bright light. As the lights dimmed this time, people were anticipating something titanic, and it was soon to come.
The voices of the fans had already deafened me by the time Zack de la Rocha, the lead singer, shouted, “Check 1, 2, 1, 2! Hello we’re Rage Against the Machine from Los Angeles, California!” The beginning of Testify, the song that opens The Battle of Los Angeles, started to play on the amplifiers and the crowd started to get stirred up. I did not expect such a violent crowd, so I was in a vulnerable position. AJ and I lost Adam instantaneously and we did not find him until the concert finished. I did not catch a glimpse of the band until after their second song, Guerrilla Radio, finished. I yelled to AJ that I could not take this crazy stuff anymore and that I was going to get away from the floor. But after I said that, the crowd became a little tamer and I stayed. It was still pretty rowdy, but I could keep up with it.
After the third song or so, Zack yelled at the crowd for harassing women, telling them that women live in fear of men everyday, and that they should not live in fear at a Rage Against the Machine concert. The quick speech made people aware of what they were doing. The band played through their past hits as well as songs from their new CD. The only thing I remember from the concert that I can visualize and hear is a part from one of their songs called Sleep Now in the Fire. Zack had part singing part while the music was soft, but he gradually increased his volume into a swashbuckling frenzy. The best part of the show was yet to come.
Rage usually takes a fifteen-minute break in the middle of their sets. During those fifteen minutes, everyone started chanting “Rage” and “encore.” I even joined in on the fun. Also at this time I saw someone who looked like my English teacher except much smaller and younger, which inferred a sister. It scared me a little, so I did not think of that afterwards. They were soon to emerge with the song that inspired me to listen to them.
Bulls on Parade was the first Rage tune I had ever heard and it was from the radio. When Rage exploded with Bulls on Parade, I had flashbacks from the good old radio days and the times when I used to think their band name was Race Against the Machine. I felt lopsided because I could not concentrate on what was going on around me. The only thing I was thinking of at the time was experiences from 3 years past. Too much passed my mind at that time, and I do not remember much about that song being played live.
The concert progressed to its last song, appropriately named Killing in the Name. They used to close with a song called Freedom, but they trashed that idea that day. During a soft part in the song, I jabbed AJ in the jaw on accident, but he looked at me and gave me a signal that he did not care. He was having too much fun to care about a jab to the chin. The most memorable part of Killing in the Name is at the end when the singer repeatedly shouts, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” At that time, the crowd gets into the song by raising their middle finger in the air. The lighting effects were waived specifically for that part and it was bright enough to see everyone in the crowd. Once the part finished, the lights were turned off and they ended the song. The Rage concert was now over.
It was now time to exit the place and go home. AJ and I exited the Arena and found met up with everyone outside. We headed to the car and exited Downtown Phoenix. Some interesting conversations arose in the car, such as drug usage and how many people use it at concerts. The conversation has absolutely no relevance, so it will not be explained. Adam was to sleep over at my house, even though he had school the next day. By the time we reached my house, the day was over. At that point in time, I felt like the greatest day of my life had come to an end.