It’s been a decade since lyrical bomb throwers Rage Against the Machine took the stage together. But on Saturday night (July 9) at the sold-out Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin the reunited radical rockers appeared to show no signs of rust as they treated the crowd of 30,000-plus to a fierce set of classics spiked with their patented mix of take-no-prisoners messaging.
With a deep catalog of songs that kick against conformity, groupthink and the legacy of racism, the band’s return — repeatedly postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — at this moment seems perfectly poised to take on the stark divisions in a country riven by arguments over what truth even means anymore.
According to Rolling Stone, the show kicked off in a typically raucous fashion for the band whose patented blend of rap, rock, metal and street-level reportage have kept them at arena-level headlining status despite two extended hiatuses since their 2000 split. The magazine reported that the set kicked off with 1992’s “Bombtrack” — during which the words “Fear is Your Only God” flashed on the screen behind them — followed by such ground-shaking classics as “People of the Sun” and “Bulls on Parade.”
The 90-minute show, of course, also included some of the band’s expected provocations, including images on the stage screen that included an El Paso police car on fire, a helicopter zooming in on a group of refugees in a boat and the provocative phrase “Abort the Supreme Court” just weeks after the conservative-leaning justices struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
Guitarist Tom Morello — who often speaks of and does appearances with his educator mother — also pushed some red-state buttons by playfully tweaking the non-issue that has become the right’s favorite stalking horse lately with an “I Love CRT” t-shirt for the show’s last few songs; though a large swath of Republican lawmakers and parents have claimed that college-level Critical Race Theory is being taught to grade school students, there is no evidence that that is true.
The show also included the band running through a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which they hadn’t played since their original final swing of dates in 2000, as well as such fan-favorites as “Killing in the Name,” “Bullet in the Head,” “Know Your Enemy,” “Testify,” “Guerrilla Radio,” “Sleep Now in the Fire” and “War Within a Breath.” The gig was the band’s first live performance since LA Rising on July 30, 2011; the next show on their Public Announcement Tour will take place Monday (July 11) night at the United Center in Chicago.
Check out some fan video and the full set list below.
Rage Against the Machine at Alpine Valley, July 9, 2022:
“People Of The Sun”
“Bulls On Parade”
“Bullet In The Head”
“Without A Face”
“Know Your Enemy”
“Calm Like A Bomb”
“Sleep Now In The Fire”
“War Within A Breath”
“The Ghost Of Tom Joad”
“Killing In The Name”