In the desolate wasteland that is American politics in 2016, the people need heroes. To summon them, all the people needed to do was raise a solitary fist, and their saviors would come running. Who are these saviors, you ask? The Prophets of Rage.
Like the Justice League of protest music, the Prophets of Rage are the result of amalgamating members of Rage Against the Machine with Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy, and B-Real of Cypress Hill, forming a supergroup on a mission to “take the power back,” according to their mission statement on their website.
The group opened their “Make America Rage Again” tour with support from AWOLNATION at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday.
AWOLNATION’s set started in darkness with a solitary spaceman holding a lantern. As the atmospheric sounds were drowned out by the bass line of the opening track “Run,” frontman Aaron Bruno took to the stage singing, “I am a human being, capable of doing beautiful things,” before the song dropped into a frenzy of screaming and head-banging.
While the opening songs had some technical difficulties (namely Bruno’s microphone cutting out frequently) the rest of the set went smoothly. Most of the people at the show were there for the Prophets of Rage, so there was a noticeable lack of audience response to Bruno’s requests for jumping or hands in the air; however, by the end of the set the band properly warmed up the crowd to rage.
The prophets came on stage after a short turntablism demonstration by DJ Lord. They had their fists in the air and opened with Public Enemy’s “Prophets of Rage” before transitioning into Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerilla Radio,” which embodies the supergroup’s movement perfectly: “It has to start somewhere/ It has to start sometime/ What better place than here/ what better time than now?”
Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine, told audience members that the band will donate a portion of the proceeds from the show to a local homeless charity. Morello also left the audience with a message: fight for the world you really want to live in.
Morello, drummer Brad Wilk, and bassist Tim Commerford proved they are still worth their salt after not releasing any new music in nine years by banging out some of the most memorably aggressive protest songs in recent memory. Their electrifying energy set the stage and acted as the medium for Chuck D and B-Real to deliver the message.
The two rappers gave their best shot keeping up with the band, and for the most part succeeded at matching pace. The highlight for the pair came halfway through the set, running a back and forth medley of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy classics, including “Insane in the Brain” and “Can’t Truss It.” For a group with all members nearing 50 years old (if they have not already crossed that line) the Prophets of Rage definitely deserved their title, as the countless moshers in the crowd can attest.
The Prophets closed with one of Rage Against the Machine’s most well-known songs, “Killing in the Name.” Watching an arena full of Americans wearing Donald Trump-esque “Make America Rage Again” hats while chanting “F-ck you, I won’t do what you tell me” 24 years after the song’s debut makes you think — there may be something to this revolution.