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Prophets Of Rage Concert Review

Prophets Of Rage
September 5th, 2016
Providence Medical Center Amphitheater - Bonner Springs, KS

Tom Morello of Prophets Of Rage
The presidential election is looming over America like a date for a root canal. In May, as the rank and file of both major parties were becoming increasingly disillusioned and hopeless, a special reunion-of-sorts was announced. Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine would be joined by B-Real of Cypress Hill and Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy to form Prophets Of Rage. After a protest performance near the Republican National Convention and the release of an EP, the supergroup embarked on a national tour with the goal of making America rage again.

Providence Medical Center Amphitheater hosted Monday night's concert. Attendance was in the thousands, but the venue opted to close the lawn seating and move everyone up closer. Fans from both of the city's rock radio mainstays, dorks in cargo shorts, and Republicans who can't take a hint came out in droves.

DJ Lord opened the headlining set with a 15-minute turntable session that featured many recognizable rock and rap hits of the 20th century, including an extended remix of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that Public Enemy fans were treated to in Lawrence back in June. With the song's conclusion, the mix came to a complete halt and the lights dimmed. Sirens rang out and the Prophets took the stage with their fists raised in the air.
B-Real of Prophets Of Rage

The evening's setlist consisted largely of Rage Against The Machine hits. Wilk, Commerford, and Morello sounded as if they'd never truly called it a day when Rage ended. Their tones, techniques, and level of skill have not changed a bit since their final show in 2011. Morello's tapping, feedbacking, string-stretching solos are still a total thrill to witness and his howling, fist pumping stage presence put instant smiles on the faces of anyone paying close enough attention.

The aspect of this group that more fans were worried by, however, was the absence of singer Zack De La Rocha. B-Real and Chuck D are two legends in their own realms, but De La Rocha left a unique pair of shoes to be filled. Bringing in two aggressive emcees from opposite coasts with impressive catalogs proved to be an excellent decision for the group. B-Real and Chuck D could never scream like De La Rocha did and they were well aware of that. If one had been absent there would have been very noticeable gaps in the '90's classics being performed, but the two performed the songs with gusto, trading lines and shouting choruses together. Some reunion bands choose a soundalike singer, but Prophets Of Rage picked two powerful ones who put their own unique spin on the lyrics.

"Guerilla Radio," "Bombtrack," and "People Of The Sun" were early evening crowd pleasers and mosh pit starters. Breaks in Rage programming included full band renditions of Public Enemy's "Miuzi Weighs A Ton" and "Shut 'Em Down." The band left the stage for a string of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy songs that Chuck and B-Real rapped together from a riser placed in front of the barricade. Although the variety that was provided by this detour was valuable to the set overall, the two not using the highly illuminated stage behind them left fans poking their heads around in confusion.
Aaron Bruno of Awolnation
One of two other minor whiffs included B-Real rapping along to House Of Pain's "Jump Around" minutes after finishing "Insane In The Brain" -- a Cypress Hill song which samples "Jump Around" very heavily. The other fluke was the full band cover of "No Sleep Til Brooklyn." A Beastie Boys song may have seemed like a great pick for a concert that features rap and rock coming together, but the outcome was decidedly cheesy.

Near the set's close, Morello took to the microphone for the first time to deliver an impassioned speech about standing up for what is right and taking responsibility for creating change in our country. After thanking the venue staff -- it was Labor Day after all -- he also noted that the Missouri Rural Crisis Center would be receiving funds from the night's show. Morello ended his soapboxing by dedicating a song to a veteran friend of his in the area who had passed away two years ago after returning from war in the Middle East.

If any attendees had lost interest during the previous songs, closing tracks "Bulls On Parade" and "Killing In The Name" undoubtedly snatched it back. Fans went bonkers singing along and the amphitheater basked in the political rap-metal hits that captivated fans of the genres 20 years before. By no means are Prophets Of Rage a perfect band, nor are they about to create a political revolution and shift the election, but that didn't keep them from staying true to the messages of their respective bands and giving the fans the Rage they wanted.

Los Angeles rock band Awolnation was the second band to take the stage. Enthusiastic frontman Aaron Bruno led his jumpsuited band in creating stadium-sized indie rock that used a healthy dose of electronic sounds. The numbers that the band stirred up behind Bruno would occasionally dominate moments where he sang softly, but not on a regular enough basis to spoil the show. Their set was concluded with their 2011 mega-hit "Sail" which evoked a massive singalong and a warm mood to coincide with the setting sun.
Tim Commerford of Wakrat

Rage bassist Tim Commerford also sings and plays bass in a new project called Wakrat. The band played a half hour of speedy, groove-heavy hard rock songs that the early crowd was not entirely entertained by; boos rang out after several songs. Commerford and his bandmates are thoroughly capable musicians, but Commerford's lyricism and vocals seemed to be responsible for their poorly received performance. Nearly every song had several uses of the word "fuck" and Commerford's vocals came out sounding like a dying James Hetfield. Other strange and cringeworthy aspects of the endeavor included a song that featured a brooding recital of The Lord's Prayer and Commerford reading notes printed from the internet about the word "feedback."

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