The organizers of the 2000 Democratic National Convention hoped to have a quiet, peaceful event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but that pretty much became an impossibility when Rage Against the Machine decided to throw a free concert across the street on opening day.
Eight-thousand people showed up and Rage frontman Zack de la Rocha whipped them into a frenzy when he walked onstage.
“Our democracy has been hijacked!” he screamed as the band kicked into “Bulls on Parade.” “Our electoral freedoms in this country are over so long as it’s controlled by corporations! We are not going to allow these streets to be taken over by the Democrats or the Republicans!”
They played a forty-minute set that included “Sleep Now in the Fire,” “Guerrilla Radio,” “Testify” and covers of Devo’s “Beautiful World” and MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams.” The sound was unusually low, and fans chanted “Turn it up!” between songs, though eventually they gave up and thrashed around even though if they couldn’t quite hear it properly.
A mini riot broke out after the set and police responded by firing pepper spray and rubber bullets, but compared to the nightmare of the 1968 DNC the event was relatively calm. It also had little impact on the events inside the Staples Center. A few days later, Al Gore nearly swallowed Tipper’s head in a horrifyingly intense open-mouth kiss before accepting his party’s nomination. He was trying to demonstrate that, unlike Bill Clinton, he had a great relationship with his wife. In hindsight, had he embraced Clinton in that election he very well might have won.
As far as Rage Against the Machine, they only played four more concerts before splitting the following month. By the time the Supreme Court stopped the recount in December and effectively made George W. Bush president, Rage Against the Machine were kicking off what would become a seven-year split.