A throng gathers at the Hollywood Palladium parking lot at 8 a.m. on June 2 to wait in line for Prophets of Rage tickets. A flaxen-haired waif rolls a cigarette laced with weed and lights it, nearly catching her hair on fire as she juggles the lit spliff and her tresses. @ThePhunkyJedi tweets, “This is how you get concert tickets, #LosAngeles! #boxoffice #oldschool.” A leathery 50-something surfer and his girlfriend, dressed in matching faded Dead Kennedys T-shirts, glower at a peroxided and teen who is boasting about his latest Tinder conquests. It’s finally time to buy tickets.
Generations collide in labyrinthine lines. Those at the Palladium are bound by a shared desire to see Prophets of Rage, the supergroup comprised of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, Chuck D and DJ Lord (Lord Aswod) of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill’s B-Real. The group performed their first raucous concert at L.A.’s The Whisky a Go Go on May 31, playing new material and tracks culled from all three groups.
The timing is impeccable for California, as it’s the week prior to the state’s presidential primary election. “Dangerous times demand dangerous songs,” Prophets of Rage’s website decrees. And the times are dangerous: riots broke out in San Jose on June 2 following Donald Trump’s San Jose Convention Center rally. “Protesters jumped on cars, while others burned red ‘Make America Great’ hats and took selfies with the charred remains. Demonstrators waved Mexican flags as Trump supporters shouted at them to ‘Go back to Mexico’,” theSan Jose Mercury News reported. One onlooker said, “San Jose is populated mostly by immigrants and Donald Trump has inspired hate. I’m all about love.” Despite all this, Trump plods on and muses, “If we win California, the election is over. We win. And then we will make America great again.”
To which Prophets of Rage say, “Make America Rage Again.” Check Twitter; #MakeAmericaRageAgain is alive and well.
— Cypress Hill ™ (@cypresshill) June 4, 2016
In a June 1YouTube video, acerbic and caustic snippets by Prophets members are spliced together explaining the impetus for the band’s formation. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine says, “Justice needs a fist in the face. And in America’s greatest hour of need, Prophets of Rage have come together. We’re going to demonstrate what it really means to be anti-establishment. We’re going to demonstrate what it really means to Rage Against The Machine.” B-Real (Louis Freese) of Cypress Hill says, “What’s our message for Trump? Get the fuck outta here.” He says this message with the same smug self-important confidence as Trump does in his blustery quasi-political salvos, yet similarities end at self-important confidence — and at the large plume of smoke Freese exhales in the video, post-declaration. What is clear is that Prophets of Rage formed in protest of recent political travesties and have banded together to rally a numb public.
At the Hollywood Palladium show, those present — long-suffering survivors of Thursday’s parking lot line, Live Nation executives, ‘90s rap and rock fans — were rallied and incited as the band throttled through a ferocious set of new Prophets of Rage songs, “Shut ‘em Down” and the sterling “The Party’s Over,” Rage Against The Machine classics like “Guerrilla Radio” and “Sleep Now in the Fire,” Public Enemy’s “Muzi Weighs a Ton” and Cypress Hill’s “Rock Superstar.” While the performance might have seemed like a manufactured greatest hits selection, the set hung together with ease and the driving force to mobilize the audience was evident. Chuck D and Freese bandied about onstage, hopping in tandem, while guitarist Tom Morello thrashed through guitar figures in perfect metronome-syncopated time of divine anarchy.
As the group closed with “Killing in the Name,” a mosh pit roiled and embers ignited into fire as the audience rallied. The message was delivered: It’s time to be angry, time to raise a fist, time to make America rage again. As the crowd emptied onto Sunset Boulevard, the ignited electricity was palpable. Here were a throng who were going to do something. Maybe it would be stopping traffic to photograph the Palladium marquee from the dividing lane of Sunset Boulevard, or drinking copious shots at The Woods bar. Or maybe it would be voting with the inspired desire to instigate social change.
Prophets of Rage arrived to incite their audience. They remind us to seize our power for change through expression, freedom of speech, and through the rapidly disappearing liberties of the American public for which past generations fought blood-soaked battles. It’s no time to sleep. A fire is burning, and a pendulum is swinging, and the divisive nature of American politics in 2016 continues to diminish the human. And, lest we forget, humans begat politics.
Prophets of Rage show us that it’s time for artists to use their clout to incite action. If nothing else, they intone, VOTE. Even if it feels as if you’re voting for Wal-Mart or Diebold, we still have a choice. Corporations and government cease to exist without flesh and blood behind them.
Prophets of Rage Tour Dates: (Tickets go on sale June 10)
July 19: Cleveland, Republican National Convention
Aug. 19: Fairfax, Virginia EagleBank Arena
Aug. 20: Camden, NJ BB&T Pavilion
Aug. 21: Mansfield, MA Xfinity Center
Aug. 23: Hartford, CT Xfinity Theatre
Aug. 24: Toronto Molson Canadian Ampitheatre
Aug. 26: Holmdel, NJ P.N.C Bank Arts Center
Aug. 27: Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
Aug. 28: Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Aug. 30: Noblesville, IN Klipsch Music Center
Aug. 31: Burgettstown, PA First Niagra Pavilion
Sept. 1: Clarston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sept. 3: Tinley Park, IL Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Sept. 4: St. Louis Hollwood Casino Amphitheatre
Sept. 5: Kansas City, MO Providence Medical Center Amphitheatre
Sept. 7: Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Sept. 10: Auburn, WA White River Amphitheatre
Sept. 11: Ridgefield, WA Sunlight Supply Amphitheatre
Sept. 13: Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
Sept. 15: Los Angeles The Forum
Sept. 17: Phoenix Ak-Chin Pavilion
Sept. 25: Dallas Gexa Energy Pavilion
Sept. 27: Nashville Bridgestone Arena
Sept. 29 Virginia Beach Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheatre
Oct. 1: Tampa MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Oct. 2: West Palm Beach Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre
Oct. 4: Atlanta Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Oct. 5: Cincinnati Riverbend Music Center
Oct. 7 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
Oct. 8 Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Oct. 9 San Antonio AT&T Center
Oct. 11 El Paso, TX El Paso County Coliseum
Oct. 12: Albuquerque Isleta Amphitheatre
Oct. 14: Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Event Center
Oct. 16: Chula Vista, CA Sleep Train Amphitheatre