Concert report: Rock the Bells 2007, featuring Rage Against the Machine

I never really got the chance to update the blog with a “I’m leaving” post, but I have not yet abandoned this blog. I was in fact gone for a few days on a pilgrimage of sorts to go see Rage Against the Machine at Rock the Bells in San Francisco. We (Erik, my roommate; Nicole, his girlfriend; Charles, whom we know from high school; and Aisha and Dylan from our floor) arrived in time to catch Immortal Technique from the ridiculous line to get in and Pharoahe Monch after we were in, who was impressive – very talented backup and singers. We then caught Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Roots, and part of Public Enemy, at which I saw Flava Flav (who appeared again later with an iPhone in hand). I then went with Erik and Nicole to watch Blackalicious, who blew my mind – I didn’t really think that Chemical Calisthenics was physically possible live, but he did it. Along with the fastest rapid fire freestyle ever imagined.

We then took a break and caught Wu-Tang Clan who was really nothing but a self-advertisement machine, but we only watched them to get a decent spot for Rage.

And then there was Rage. I don’t need to go into how awesome it was, it should be expected. They tore through songs like you wouldn’t believe, and while they were off a couple of times, they were in general very solid. All the songs you would expect them to play were played, with a speech in the middle of the main set closer Wake Up involving how we, as the people, have the true power in this country (sounds like a good topic of debate). After a dubious break (which really wasn’t all that dubious given that Tom Morello literally ran off the stage the moment the song was over), they came back on and played a few more, finishing off with Killing in the Name, which drove the crowd insane.

If you’ve never been among 50,000 people leaving a parking lot in the middle of San Francisco, do try it sometime. It also helps when they’re all riled up from just yelling “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” a good number of times. It’s somewhat like a giant angry flood of water pouring into a small area. I half expected riots to break out, but the chaos was limited to an utter standstill in traffic as people just spilled over intersections en masse. That was a bit of quite something.

The trip back was a great deal more relaxed, thank goodness.

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