Photos by Randall Vasquez
It seems that half-assed band reunions and cashgrab-happy collaborations are all the “rage” these days.
Yes, that pun is definitely intentional because at first glance, supergroup-by-definition Prophets of Rage awkwardly falls somewhere between the two.
So who exactly are these angry, divine inspirators who graced Toronto with their presence at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Wednesday August 24th? Allow me to educate y’all…
Prophets of Rage are essentially Rage Against the Machine with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and B-Real of Cypress Hill trading “rebellious, ass-rocking” rhymes, playing a 2-hour set’s worth of selections from all three hip-hop meets rap metal music entities.
No, it’s not RATM proper. You would think that if there was EVER an event that could make the legendarily defiant LA quartet reunite (again) and rally against perceived wrongs in the world, it would be Donald Freaking Trump as a presidential candidate. Apparently not even this impending apocalypse can force Zach de la Rocha out of hiding so like it or not, Prophets of Rage will have to do.
But seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better MC-type frontman than Chuck D, with a voice that still booms with authority after thirty years in the game. He is also no stranger to fire-stoking, fist-in-the-air politicized anthems, several of which have been reconstructed by the instrumental backbone of Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for the “Make America Rage Again” tour.
The ten Rage Against the Machine tracks performed didn’t deviate much structurally from the original album compositions all 16,000 Amphitheatre attendees know, love, and chanted along with. Loudly. Where Prophets of Rage particularly got creative in terms of arrangements was when they mashed up the beat to Audioslave song “Cochise” with the lyrics of “She Watch Channel Zero?!”, an experiment they repeated later with “No Sleep till Brooklyn” by Beastie Boys and “Fight the Power”.
B-Real showed solidarity by sporting a bright red Public Enemy hoodie, while Chuck wore a Cypress Hill T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Rise Up” (which Tom Morello shreds guitar on). Fans got an up close look at their threads when the duo freestyled a stripped-down medley of hits from the first few rows, accompanied only by turntablist DJ Lord.
The collective expanded their ranks by inviting back opener Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION fame to warble “The Ghost of Tom Joad” à la Bruce Springsteen, and not the heavier version off of all-covers Rage Against the Machine recording Renegades. Speaking of that Y2K effort, Prophets of Rage saved their biggest surprise for the second last song of the night. They invited some dude you may have heard of named Dave Grohl on stage to do justice to MC5 classic “Kick Out the Jams”.
Now what exactly everyone’s FOOvourite rocker is doing in the Big Smoke of T.O. is anyone’s guess. Maybe he was taking in our Canadian National Exhibition with his kids. Perhaps Davy Grolton was scouting studios for a Great White North sequel to Sonic Highways. One thing I DO know for certain is there wasn’t anyone who didn’t feel privileged by his appearance, whether in person or on the livestream. And I am very confident an exclusive group of VIPs no doubt enjoyed the rest of their evening – and early morning – at Cherry Cola’s Rock ’n’ Rolla Cabaret & Lounge 😉
Don’t believe my hype as to how awesome this show was? Relive the full experience below, and be sure to give their just-dropped debut EP The Party’s Over a listen.