Given the political climate in the United States today, politics is something you can’t get away from. Now some artists steer completely clear of making political statements with their music or during their shows, and some choose to vocalize their opinions on social media or during live shows. But supergroup Prophets of Rage is one of the few groups who actually embrace the political debate with open arms. Formed in 2016 the group is comprised of members of Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, and Rage Against the Machine – three bands who were never shy about their political beliefs.
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello launched the project early last year, telling Rolling Stone "We're an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing" about the formation of the band. After the election results last November the band has become even more relevant this year. So relevant in fact, that they recorded a full length album of original material that is due out next Friday.
To celebrate the impending album release Prophets of Rage booked a handful of super intimate club shows on the east coast. The first of those intimate album release shows, was last night’s gig at Boston’s legendary Paradise Rock Club on Comm Ave. Just before doors open the line at Paradise was stretched as far as the eye could see, and then some. The venue quickly packed in after doors, with what felt like way more than a capacity crowd.
DJ Lord of Prophets had a 30 minute DJ set of classic and popular rock songs to get the crowd hyped for the show. By the time Prophets of Rage came busting out, the atmosphere in the room was electric, it had that ‘big show’ feel that even as a concert going regular you only get to see two or three times a year. Opening with Public Enemy song “Prophets of Rage” – which the band was named for – the group came out on fire, belting out “make way for the Phrophets of Rage!” The night would consist of a significant amount of alternating from Public Enemy to Cypress Hill to Rage Against the Machine tunes, and on to more original songs with the new album set for release. “Unfuck the World” had that signature edge and contempt for establishment that once lifted Rage Against the Machine to a Multi-Platinum selling band. As did the tune “Hail to the Chief” which was a protest anthem taking aim at you know who.
There was plenty of politics in the music and between songs, but the particular nature of the political talk was a little different than what you’ve become used to. Prophets of Rage aren’t just anti-Trump, they’re anti-establishment, while a lot of the political debates today are divided by sides, Prophets of Rage is a band that’s taking on the whole system at once.
But it wasn’t all politics on Thursday, emotions were running high when DJ Lord, Chuck D, and B-Real left the stage, leaving only the members of Rage Against the Machine on the stage, those same three musicians were also a part of another supergroup, called “Audioslave” with the late rock icon, Chris Cornell. As a tribute to Cornell the members of Audioslave played the song “Like a Stone” without vocals and with the stage lights shining on an empty microphone signifying the loss of their vocalist Cornell.
After a rousing round of applause for Cornell, it was back to business with heavy tunes such as the Rage classic “Bullet in the Head” and the song that was written my Cypress Hill but also covered by RATM, “How I Could Just Kill a Man.” Another original tune, “Radical Eyes” would make it’s live debut before the shows end. But it was the fierce one-two punch of Rage Against the Machine classics “Bulls on Parade” and “Killing in the Name” the latter of which was introduced as a “dangerous song for a dangerous time.”
There was no encore on Thursday as the whole played out faux encore thing doesn’t really match the style and attitude of Prophets’ music. What did perfectly exemplify the attitude of the night, was when B-Real was speaking to the crowd at near the end of the show and dubbed their music “the sound of the revolution.” Prophets of Rage is the band that America needs right now, a band with the anger and intensity that a lot in the country feel right now.
When the Prophets project was launched last year, many assumed it was going to be mostly a nostalgia thing, giving music fans a chance to see Rage Against the Machine songs performed live again, and perhaps if things in the country didn’t turn out the way they have, it would have been. Now we’ve seen supergroups that have written their own material and released albums before – remember that SuperHeavy project Mick Jagger was a part of that mostly fell on deaf ears? – But with Prophets of Rage things are a little different, these songs are written with emotion, written with anger, more so than even many original bands write with today. These are not guys just ‘playing the part’ they’re genuinely fired up about the state of the world and channeling their anger through their music.
Remaining album release shows:
Sep 09 - Stone Pony Asbury Park, NJ Sep 10 - Theatre of Living Arts Philadelphia, PA Sep 12 - Apollo Theater New York, NY