Rage Against the Machine

Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium [DVD]

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While Rage Against the Machine's albums are intense listening experiences, its concerts were even more powerful, with the band's relentless rhythms and Zack de la Rocha's agitprop raps and chants echoed by audiences that slam-danced and shouted along. This was as true of Rage's final show, at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles on September 13, 2000, as it had been during the previous eight years of the group's existence. And that power is captured here on a 75-minute video of the show, plus an additional eight minutes of "bonus concert performances" that should have been edited into the concert proper. (A CD version is drawn from the previous night's performance as well as this one. It is sequenced differently and contains one less track.) The band runs through what amounts to its greatest hits: "Bulls on Parade," "No Shelter," "Guerrilla Radio," "Sleep Now in the Fire," "Testify," and more. On each song, the trio of musicians sets up an underlying rhythm track dominated by Tom Morello's fierce guitar riffs, over which de la Rocha bellows his caustic, politically oriented phrases, often repeated over and over: "They say jump, you say how high" ("Bullet in the Head"), "Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses" ("Killing in the Name"). The fans mirror de la Rocha's rage, defiantly thrusting their middle fingers into the cameras and reciting along with the rapper. For its cover of Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill a Man," the band introduces Cypress Hill itself to join in. This is followed by a cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," which demonstrates that de la Rocha should stick to rapping; his singing voice is underdeveloped. The show occurred a month after the 2000 Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles, and de la Rocha refers to the event in his stage remarks. The bonus material fleshes out those comments, presenting a half-hour film of the band's appearance outside the convention site and the political demonstrations, including scuffles with the police, that preceded and followed it. Music videos for "How I Could Just Kill a Man" and "Bombtrack" complete the two-hour-plus package. Of course, this was already a historical (or at least a period) document by the time of its 2003 release, and Rage Against the Machine's combination of heavy metal, rap, and political commentary may be viewed as an anomaly or a precursor, depending on musical trends of the future. Either way, this video gives a good sense of what the band was about.

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