Clad in Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits with black hoods cinched over their heads and their hands behind their backs, Rage Against the Machine were led onstage to deafening air raid sirens and cheers in Minneapolis last night. The band faced the crowd for a second — as if waiting for a firing squad — before their instruments were placed in their hands and they launched into a blistering rendition of "Bomb Track," their heads still covered in black cloth. "We're Rage Against the Machine from Los Angeles, California," Zack de la Rocha said after the band had changed out of their prison-camp garb, and that was basically his only address to the crowd for the next dozen songs.
The band seemed to have even more energy than the amped-up audience on the over-packed floor, and the four tore through song after song like they were making up for the canceled free concert the police shut down the previous night. Guitarist Tom Morello and de la Rocha stomped back and forth while drummer Brad Wilk kept up a tireless mechanical thrash and bassist Tim Commerford bounced up and down for almost the entire concert. Only during the drum solo in "Sleep Now in the Fire" did de la Rocha say a few words. "I know we're going to take care of each other this evening," he said as security poured water on the sweaty fans packed against the fence in front of the stage. "I know we can stand here with y'all in peaceful opposition to the whole fascist Republican agenda."
A few minutes later, before they walked offstage to regroup for their encore, de la Rocha gave his only real speech of the night. "I know a lot of you feel the way that we do," he said. "In our small way, together we come to spots like this to interrupt and to disrupt and to not be passive in the face of all this death and destruction that this party brought to this country and the world. We won't be party to it. And we're going to resist it. And we're not going to let them distract our brothers and sisters and people around the country from it. ... These people are concerned about a few determined people that broke a couple of windows; this government just broke two countries! ... Oh and by the way, Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, I forgot to mention that."
As they finished "Wake Up," de la Rocha added, "I don't know what you all are going to do tonight afterward, but I hope you all leave peacefullyâ€¦ but you don't have to be passive! You don't have to let anyone put their hands on you."
After an encore featuring "Killing in the Name" left an arena bristling with middle fingers, the band stood and faced the audience one last time. This time, instead of looking like victims of a firing squad, the effect was more like posing for a yearbook photo — the four stood smiling, their arms around each other's shoulders.
When Target Center emptied into the streets, crowds stood across from lines of riot, bike and mounted police. Some protestors went on to lie on the ground while others held a flag. The police reinforced their lines and the two sides faced off for about 30 minutes between the First Avenue nightclub and Minneapolis Hard Rock Café. Finally, the police allowed a crowd of about 200 to march away from the Target Center towards the center of downtown Minneapolis. (The group reportedly dwindled as they marched and the protest ended in the arrests of 102 people.) Less than a block away, at a RNC party thrown by the Minneapolis St. Paul Host Committee, one middle-aged woman dressed in white looked down on the protestors from the restaurant's second floor windows, "Where are their mothers?" she asked.
"Bulls on Parade"
"People of the Sun"
"Know Your Enemy"
"Bullet in the Head"
"Born of a Broken Man"
"Ashes in the Fall"
"Calm like a Bomb"
"Sleep Now in the Fire"
"Killing in the Name"
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