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Back in May, in light of all of the recent political outrage, a media frenzy ensued when Rage Against the Machine launched a new website. Fans of the rap/rock group, that is most known for the members' revolutionary political views, flooded to prophetsofrage.com to check out the countdown clock leading to the mysterious date of June 1. Public Enemy's Chuck D seemed to hint at his involvement via Twitter. With ties to the name "Prophets of Rage" which is the title of a popular Public Enemy song. Later reports surfaced that it wasn't counting down to a Rage Against the Machine reunion announcement, but a super-group tour featuring three-quarters of Rage Against the Machine—Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk—plus Chuck D and Cypress Hill's B-Real.
As a huge Rage fan, I had mixed feeing about the tour. I was both disappointed at the absence of Zack de la Rocha, and elated that I would be able to witness the reunion when it came to Massachusetts.
Walking up to the Xfinity Center the scene was surprisingly quiet. I was shocked at the lack of a crowd when I arrived after doors. The opening band took the stage to a sparsely filled venue. The trio, WAKRAT is a group formed by Rage’s former bassist, Tim Commerford. The heavily alt-punk-influenced group welcomed the rowdy crowd that began to slowly file into their seats.
Next to take the stage was alt-rock group AWOLNATION. The band is a favorite performer of mine and every time I see them I love them even more. Their unique sound, energetic performance and quirky dance moves by front man Aaron Bruno make for an amazing set. The production on this tour was much lighter on the fog machines than I have previously seen from them, and it was great to be able to actually witness their killer drummer, Isaac Carpenter in action.
By the time Prophets of Rage took the stage the crowd in the venue had filled in considerably, although still not the crowd that I had anticipated them to bring. The group’s DJ Lord (previously of Public Enemy) opened the set with a mix that had all of us 90’s kids singing and dancing along and the venue was brought back to life. By the time rest of the Prophet’s joined him on stage the energy was at a 10. They performed multiple Rage Against the Machine anthems with B-Real replacing Zack de la Rocha on vocals and the results (while not the real thing) were, to my surprise nearly as powerful. Every person in the venue, including myself enthusiastically sang along to favorites like “Testify”, “Guerilla Radio”, “Sleep Now In the Fire”, “Bulls on Parade” and “Killing in the Name”. With Tom Morello jumping and shredding on stage covered in political innuendos like “#nobody for president” on the back of his guitar, it almost helped you to forget that you weren’t at an actual Rage show.
The Prophets also delivered a few Public Enemy tunes like “Miuzi Weighs a Ton”, “Shut 'Em Down” and the groups namesake “Prophets of Rage”. Other songs performed by the group included a Cypress Hill cover and the new original Prophets of Rage’s “The Party’s Over”.
In the end I was happy. The performance, while I much rather would have been at a Rage Against The Machine show, did satisfy my need for some politically powerful rap/rock goodness. And I will hopefully be able to catch the group a second time if they come around again.