Lollapalooza 2008 Day 2: Rage Against Rage
Calling Rage Against the Machine hypocritical is older than 78% of the Rage fans who packed into the Grant Park to see the Foghat of bumper sticker radicalism. As soon as the gates opened at 11am, a couple hundred teens in Rage concert shirts speed-walked to Hutchinson Field for a prime spot. Nearly twelve hours later, I was sitting on a Metra train home with one of those front rowers, Ben. He was spooked and asking to borrow a cellphone from one of his high school friends to call his mom. He told the crowd, "Everyone was pushing up to the front. I could hear ribs cracking." A blonde with painted toe-nails OMGs, "Was it even worth pushing up front?" Ben simply says, "No."
Strange that I last saw Rage Against the Machine, at Lollapalooza, before these kids were even born. Either Audioslave had a far greater impact on adolescents, or Zach de la Rocha's Che–t-shirt spittle-spewing had become the empty sonic equivalent to, well, a Che t-shirt. The appeal for these boys is the "Rage," not the "Against the Machine." Compared to the flock of banjo-flavored folk-pop, British hypes and iTunes jingles scattered across the other stages, Rage's music seems like the ideal American festival act—ape-like mosh rock with searing guitars and a bug-eyed shouting frontman.
It's tired to point out that a band on Sony has not grounds to bitch about corporate logos. However, when Zach de la Rocha complains about "cops and politicians" at a concert where cops on horseback protected people from injury, it deserves a hearty round of Shut The Fuck Up.
Throughout the day, as I made my trek across the entirety of the festival, I spotted hundreds of Rage concert shirts from the last decade. The sheer number of Rage shirts was remarkable, not just because of the geekiness it requires to wear a band's shirt to that band's concert, but because it's been nine years since their last album. Most of the shirts spotted came from 1999's Battle of Los Angeles tour. As a cute gimmick, the shirts replicated the spray-paint outline of a raised-fist protestor from the album cover, replacing "Los Angeles" with whatever suburban amphitheater tour stop the band had hit. I had to chuckle at "Battle of Tinley Park" and "Battle of Alpine Valley" tees. Riot in the 'burbs, yo!
Zach, these kids probably think "Chomsky" is a submarine sandwhich chain in the mall. You incite little more from these kids (who can't even vote) than the desire to jump up and down. House of Pain did that too. Even MC Everlast grew up. There was no way in hell a presidential candidate like Barack would show up on stage with such a charged and hollow left-leaning rap-metal band. If he were to have shown up, it certainly would have been across the park with the innocuous, easy-to-like soft-rock stylings of Wilco. Jeff Tweedy has far more shaded subtlety and intelligent spiels about modern America. Mr. "Come Wit It Now," I leave you with this from Mr. Tweedy's "Ashes of American Flag":
I wonder why we listen to poets when nobody gives a fuck
How hot and sorrowful, the machine begs for luck