Rage Against the MachinePosted 08/29/2007 07:37AM by Rick Gebhardt as Show Review
The saying “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” was altered for this historic day to “if life gives you rain, make mud-balls and mud-slides!” It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. All sorts of people were sliding down the steep Alpine Valley hill and launching mud clumps at innocent bystanders. What else would you expect from a crowd of RATM fans who have been waiting years for this event?
After a full day of driving, consuming alcohol, and testing patience I found the Alpine Valley Music Theatre was packed and on edge. The wait following a shockingly stellar set by Queens of the Stone Age was over 45 minutes, but once the lights on the stage went dim the place erupted.
The band was fittingly introduced by undoubtedly their oldest fan. She was a little woman my grandmother’s age who has already been featured in other Rage Against the Machine live footage. She declared the boys “the best fucking band in the world” as they hit the stage.
RATM strolled onto the stage and promptly opened with “Testify”. They cranked through their hit off The Battle of Los Angeles and rolled smoothly into “Bulls on Parade” and “People of the Sun”. From the start of the show the audience matched the band's energy. The sold-out Alpine Valley (over 36,000 people in attendance) showed their appreciation because they finally scheduled a Midwest date after their seven year hiatus.
As RATM made their way through their set-list they surprisingly took no time to contemplate the current issues or upcoming elections in 2008. Instead, they took their time to meticulously rock and provoke the crowd into hysteria. Zach de la Rocha was flying all over the stage and even jumped into the crowd during a few of the songs while Tom Morello kept his reputation for systematic thrashing even during his ear-opening solos. Timmy C and Brad Wilk pounded out the funky beats.
Although the set-list was filled with many of the band’s singles, they slipped in some treats like “Vietnow”, “Tire Me”, and “Calm Like a Bomb”. Throughout the entire show, Zach kept referring to the crowd as “Chicago”, but we weren’t even in Illinois and Chicago wasn’t even the nearest major US city (Milwaukee, WI was), but the fans didn’t come to hear Zach correctly state US geography. The crowd was too immersed in the history they were witnessing on the wet stage on that fateful night.
Zach waited until the last song “Wake Up” to engage in some serious political commentary. During the last breakdown of the song before the final buildup and explosive chorus, Zach went into a Bush administration / Fox News rant and warned the Democrats to watch their step because everyone was watching them now too. The crowd reacted rather well to the tirade, but what else do you expect from the most political band of the 90’s and their fans? The short interlude was proceeded by a high-octane closure to the Rage Against the Machine track and the band exited the stage to an unbelievable standing ovation.
The crowd didn’t want the night to be over and did their best to will the band back to the stage for an encore. The fans received their wish and they band passionately rocked “Freedom” and “Killing in the Name” to close the historic night. The band thanked the crowd and took a bow in front of the drum kit and hugged one another before exiting the stage. This exit leaves the door open for a possible extended reunion and a glimmer of hope for an eventual new album.
All and all, this was an explosive and intense show. Although Zach was clueless to where he was geographically, he dominated the stage with a massive presence in comparison to his small frame. The set-list was filled with mostly popular hits spanning across their first 3 major record releases, but what can you expect from a band who has only played a handful of shows since returning from their musical grave? This night will not be forgotten soon by those who were in attendance on this saturated evening at Alpine Valley Music Theatre.
RATM Set List – Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI – 8/24/07
Bulls on Parade
People of the Sun
Bullet in the Head
Take the Power Back
Calm Like a Bomb
Sleep Now in the Fire
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Freedom (extra outro of Township Rebellion)
Killing in the Name