Concert Reviews
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Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

on August 01, 2011, 12:50pm

After Rage Against the Machine’s two night stay at Los Angeles’ Grand Olympic Auditorium 11 long years ago, few would’ve guessed it to be the last their hometown would see of them. Rage disbanded not long after and even following their lauded reunion shows at Coachella and Rock the Bells in ’07, Rage hasn’t played a hometown show aside from an abruptly announced benefit gig in Hollywood last July that sold out in under two minutes. With no dates anywhere announced since October of last year, and those ever-present rumors of the band calling it quits for the second time, it certainly looked to stay that way.

But when the Electric Daisy Carnival was forced to move its 90,000+ attended bash from sunny Southern California to sunnier Las Vegas, NV, it left a massive void in the calendars of Los Angeles’ summer concert revelers (but perhaps more importantly, in the wallets of city council). Rumors swirled for months, speculating over what/who would eventually replace it but not many could’ve dreamt up LA Rising’s monolithic double headline of Rage Against the Machine and Muse. The undercard wasn’t half bad either, boasting the likes of Rise Against, Ms. Lauren Hill, Immortal Technique and El Gran Silencio.

El Gran Silencio – 3:00 p.m.

elgransilenciokroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

El Gran Silencio, who brought their brand of ska-infused rock all the way from Mexico, got things started on an interesting note. As was discernible by the number Rage/Muse/KROQ shirts in the crowd, most everyone in attendance was there for the headliners’ heavy riffage. Still, the Monterrey-based rockers had no trouble winning over the crowd, even as they hardly sang/spoke a word of English (aside, of course from a couple of Bieber/Gaga jokes).

Immortal Technique – 4:00 p.m.

immortaltechniquekroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

Perhaps the closest band to Rage’s heart as far as political fire-branding goes, Felipe Andres Coronel, aka Immortal Technique, has spent the past decade or so earning one of the biggest followings in hip-hop’s underground. His fiery, no-compromise approach to hip-hop, and his propensity to start crowd chants (on anything from “Viva la Revolucion!” to an obligatory “Fuck cops!”), riled up the crowd more than security would have appreciated. Interspersing wildly divergent banter between vicious tracks from throughout his career, Immortal Technique and his crew (which included a guest spot from Chino XL) proved why he’s such a force to be reckoned with.

Lauryn Hill – 5:30 p.m.

laurynhillkroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

The most curious selection to play Saturday night, Lauryn Hill took the stage with an six-part R&B band and two back-up singers. Though she opened with a spirited take on the Fugees’ classic “Killing Me Softly”, sound issues and poorly mixed bass drowned out Hill’s soaring voice for much of the set. Nevertheless, Hill and her band blazed through an hour-long set that blended solo work off of her acclaimed 1995 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (which she’ll play in its entirety at this year’s Rock the Bells) and old Fugees material, as well as a couple of Stevie Wonder covers thrown in for good measure.

Rise Against -  6:50 p.m.

riseagainstkroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

Rise Against were the only LA Rising act to rep the Midwest, rising to the occasion with an energetic set chock-full of altern-rock radio hits and ferocious punk energy. The crowd responded well to their fervor, stirring the first circle pits of the night and inciting the crowd to rush the barriers blocking entry to the pit. Frontman Tim McIlrath seemed to relish the spotlight, engaging the crowd often and showcasing his best onstage acrobatics, as he jumped off and onto Brandon Barnes’ drum platform. He even busted out his acoustic for a rousing version of “Hero of War”.

Muse -  8:20 p.m.

musekroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

Muse took the stage right as night had fallen, opening to the tune of their towering “Exogenesis Symphony, Pt.1” before ripping an uproarious run-through of “Uprising”. Their legions of supporters reveled in every blast of overdriven guitar and lasers, as they shouted along with every gaudily overstated chorus, fists lifted sky-high. Muse threw in the occasional nostalgia trip for the die-hard fans — in the form of cuts “Map of the Problematique” and “Butterflies and Hurricanes” — in addition to a “greatest riffs” medley in between songs that included everything from Zeppelin and AC/DC to headliners Rage Against the Machine themselves. All in all, the British trio punched out the hits that paraded around every reason they’ve risen to the level of super-stardom they’ve achieved over the past couple of years, capping things off spectacularly with the sci-fi bombast of “Knights of Cydonia”.

Rage Against the Machine – 10:40 p.m.

ratmkroq Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

Unlike nearly ever other nostalgia act touring on their generation-old, antiquated material, Rage Against the Machine‘s message seems to ring louder and more relevant with each passing day. By the time they finally jumped onstage, some 20 minutes behind schedule, tensions had reached their peak. All hell broke loose when the band burst headlong into Battle of Los Angeles‘ opener “Testify”. Even as the PA cut out for an entire verse, the band played as if nothing had happened, with frontman De La Rocha shouting into his inert mic and leaping about stage. The crowd didn’t seem to mind either, as they hollered, bellowed, and yelled every line of every verse. By the time that nasty breakdown in “Township Rebellion” came around, there was no escaping the somehow jubilant maelstroms of flailing fists and elbows; I walked into at least seven.

ratmkroq2 Live Review: Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Lauryn Hill at LA Rising 2011

Courtesy of KROQ

Tom Morello proved why he’s so often cited as one of the greatest guitarists of this, or any, time, finger-tapping and killswitch-jabbing his way through funky guitar leads that sounded less like a single guitar than chopped-up synth lines. Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford, on drums and bass respectively, kept things grooving mightily throughout. In the calm before “Wake Up”s mega-breakdown, de La Rocha launched into a tirade that spoke louder than any voice, person or instrument did all day, essentially stating why — in the face of rising debt, a free-falling economy, and the rise of a frustrated, aimless generation — his band, music, and message have never been more pertinent; a blast that brought the frenzied shouts of “Wake Up!” (and all that followed it) instantly up to date.

Muse Setlist:
Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 1
Map of the Problematique
Supermassive Black Hole
Butterflies & Hurricanes
United States Of Eurasia
Helsinki Jam
Undisclosed Desires
Time is Running Out
House of the Rising Sun (crowd sing-along)
Stockholm Syndrome
Plug In Baby
Knights of Cydonia

Rage Against the Machine Setlist:
People of the Sun
Know Your Enemy
Bulls on Parade
Township Rebellion
Bullet in the Head
Down Rodeo
Guerrilla Radio
Calm Like a Bomb
Sleep Now in the Fire
Wake Up
Killing in the Name