We’re jumping back in time to show you Rage Against The Machine at their political height and their ferocious best—performing a guerilla show at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 is the height of their power.
The organisers of the Democratic National Convention were no doubt tearing their hair out when they noticed the location across the street from their mammoth event was slowly being taken over by a host of rockers. Those same organisers might well have needed facial reconstruction for how hard their jaws hit the floor once they realised it was Rage Against The Machine that were setting up their power sources.
The band, who had been ruffling the feathers of the establishment for some time, were determined to throw a free concert across the street from the Los Angeles Staples Center where the DNC is held. They were desperate to make a statement and so they planned something, let’s say ‘lowkey’. But maybe it wouldn’t be such a big event?
They were dead wrong as around 8,000 people, ready to rock and roll, showed up to the show. With an audience swelling and ready for action both on the stage and off it, Zack de la Rocha took the mic and did his best work with the spotlight and whipped the crowd into a frenzy. He was not about to stop there.
“Our democracy has been hijacked,” the frontman screamed into the mic. It wouldn’t take long before Rage Against the Machine would launch into ‘Bulls on Parade’. “Our electoral freedoms in this country are over so long as it’s controlled by corporations,” they added. “We are not going to allow these streets to be taken over by the Democrats or the Republicans!”
In a rallying cry to a disenfranchised youth the band powers through a 40-minute set thick with hits of their past and with the promise of a new future. Songs such as ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’, ‘Guerilla Radio’, ‘testify’, as well as covers of DEVO’s ‘Beautiful World’ and a homage to MC5 with ‘Kick Out The Jams’.
While the sound quality was patchy at best, the sentiment of the show rang out across the streets and through the walls of the Democratic National Convention.
Following the final number, an almost inevitable mini-riot broke out and saw police respond with heavy hands and rubber bullets, batting down the ideals of revolution as they went. Though there was very little impact felt on a physical level in the DNC, the reverberations of the show would ring out for all those involved.
For Rage Against The Machine, it would be one of the last shows of their first tenure and see the band starting to reach their end, yet still as powerful as ever. With so much political unrest permeating our society today, we’re wondering what Rage would have had planned for 2020 had COVID-19 not brought the world to its knees.
For now, watch below as Rage Against The Machine deliver a killer set outside the DNC in 2000.