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.
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 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”