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08/31/2016 Prophets Of Rage, Wakrat (Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids Theater)

By Eric | September 2, 2016 9:34 am

When it was announced that 3/4 of Rage Against The Machine would be getting together with B-Real from Cypress Hill and Chuck D from Public Enemy (along with PE’s DJ Lord, and with Zack de la Rocha’s blessing) as Prophets Of Rage, I know I was excited to see how they would look and sound, but I figured it would be a limited, west-coast only type of thing. Then they announced a big “Make America Rage Again” tour, which was cool, but it wasn’t coming anywhere close. But THEN a Buffalo/Niagara Falls date? I wasn’t going to miss this! I think this one came together very quickly, as the show was added very late in the tour, and tickets went on sale only a week prior. So late, in fact, that this date was not on the tour shirts! Sandwiched in-between shows in much bigger venues in Quebec City and Michigan, and from a look at the schedule, this may very well have been the only “club” date on the entire tour, as the Rapids holds about 1700 people. Having never seen RATM (I did get to see Audioslave on the first album in Toronto), Cypress Hill, nor Public Enemy, this was a chance to get a taste of all three.

I got to the venue well after the doors opened, and was able to walk right in. Everyone was jammed towards the middle and back of the place, and there was surprisingly a lot of room up front. I ended up about three people deep off the barrier, with plenty of space around me, and that didn’t change once the openers hit the stage. Apparently AWOLNATION had been opening most of the shows, but our opener was Wakrat, Tim Commerford’s new/other band. I’ve seen them described as alt-punk, and I guess I’d agree with that. Truthfully, I wasn’t all that impressed. I think they were trying to be political, but the message was rather simplistic, a bit scattered, and I wasn’t picking up what they were putting down. I’m not sure if Tim C. is the lyric writer or not, but he was the lead singer, and it was okay, but not great. But regardless, it was something to pass the time before the big show. Dave found me just as Wakrat ended, so it was great to have someone to talk to during set change too.

After the set change was complete, we got about a 10-15 minute DJ set from DJ Lord, including a ton of recognizable hip-hop and rap tracks, and even some rock and metal thrown in there for good measure. It definitely kept the crowd entertained until the band came out amidst the sound of an air raid siren, then broke out into the eponymous song, Prophets of Rage. The PE song, as reworked by the band, is a banger, but I got the feeling that not too many people knew it because while more densely packed, the crowd didn’t really go nuts, instead preferring to all take out their phones and shoot photos and videos thought. Just when I thought the crowd would be that lame all night, Guerrilla Radio was next, and people went berserk. Whoever wasn’t bouncing around for that certainly was for Bombtrack, and we were off and running. B-Real and Chuck D both were on point both in spitting the lyrics and crowd hype and participation. Obviously as the entire band are seasoned performance veterans, I really shouldn’t have expected anything less, but both guys were fantastic with their own interplay, weaving in and out of the verses and not stepping over each other on the mic. They also alternated spending time up on the barrier, letting the crowd sing, and B-Real even went crowdsurfing at one point. Both the two frontmen and the rest of the band gave a Grade A performance, as Tom, Brad, and Tim all maintained a super-high level of energy all night.

[RANDOM ASIDE]
I’m on 19+ years of going to concerts (this was show #347), and yet I’m still seeing and experiencing things I’ve never seen before. Like I said, I was about three deep off the barrier when the show started, and through the first song and a half, everyone was cool; moving, bouncing, having a good time. During Guerrilla Radio, this little skinny 5’6″ dude that looked like he’d be more at home at a DMB show tries to worm his way up front through a bunch of us. No sale from me and a couple other people. Nothing out of the ordinary. But then, instead, a 6’3″, 225-lb dude (not necessarily jacked, mind you, just big) goes to do the same thing, we sorta reject him, he gets through, and when he realizes we’re not just going to move for him, turns around and wants to fight. Me, of course. (It’s always me.) He then proceeds to pull through the little guy and get him up front, as you’d normally see a guy do with his girlfriend in these cases. That’s a bit weird. Little dude is admittedly really into the show, and the big guy is doing a poor job of faking the funk, obviously didn’t know the songs. Once Bombtrack starts and the crowd really starts warming up, big guy goes into what I’d call “girlfriend protection mode” on the little guy, doing the cocoon thing. Song ends, big guy turns around to me, says something to the effect of “Yo man, we cool, good luck up here”, and he and the little guy disappear out the back of the crowd! Like, what just happened? Was the big guy his friend, his boyfriend, or Dave and I’s theory, literal hired muscle? Like this little guy brought this big guy with him to be able to survive up front and then thought better of it? I was dumbfounded. I’ve never seen anything like that at a show before. First time for everything.
[/RANDOM ASIDE]

2016-08-31 22.33.17

The setlist was of course heavy on RATM tunes, and they nailed all the hits and crowd favorites. They also sprinkled in a little Audioslave, as they used Cochise as the backing for PE’s “She Watch Channel Zero”. The only full Cypress Hill song we got was Rock Superstar, which was great, and then as if to give the band a bit of a breather, B-Real and Chuck D kept trading off during a Cypress/PE medley of Hand on the Pump, Can’t Truss It, Insane in the Brain, Bring The Noise, Ain’t Goin Out Like That, Terrordome, and then something that didn’t show up on any other setlists I saw, Jump Around! House of Pain was tight with Cypress Hill, so no real surprise that B-Real handled it. That led right into Sleep Now In The Fire, and we were back to the crowd frenzy. They saved the best for last, of course, as between Bulls on Parade and Killing In The Name, most of the crowd lost their minds. Definitely some healthy mosh pits for these two, and all night really.

Surprisingly, given the political nature of most of the songs, and the obvious feelings of the band members, the banter from the stage was rather positive, speaking to change in general rather than picking a side, which was refreshing. So I think everyone left happy, and to be certain this was a “wring your shirt out at the end of the night” sort of show. The band sounded fantastic, B-Real and Chuck D, like I said above, were spot on, and the crowd was equal to it. There was no mailing it in, no “oh its a smaller show” type of vibe of any kind. This was worth the trip and the ticket price for sure.

Intro / Prophets of Rage

Bombtrack

Jump Around / Sleep Now In The Fire

Bulls on Parade

Killing In The Name

Some first person perspective on Killing in the Name:
2016-08-31 22.45.072016-08-31 Prophets Of Rage @ Rapids Theater

Setlist:
DJ Lord Intro
Prophets of Rage
Guerrilla Radio
Bombtrack
Miuzi Weighs a Ton
People of the Sun
Take the Power Back
Cochise / She Watch Channel Zero?!
Testify
(Rock) Superstar
Hand on the Pump / Can’t Truss It / Insane in the Brain / Bring the Noise / I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That / Welcome to the Terrordome / Jump Around
Sleep Now in the Fire
Bullet in the Head
Shut ‘Em Down
No Sleep Till Brooklyn / Fight the Power
Know Your Enemy
The Party’s Over
Bulls on Parade
Killing in the Name

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