Rage Against the Machine & Run The Jewels wake up Buffalo

Rage Against the Machine moved into Buffalo with the fury of a Lake Erie storm on Monday, July 25th… I make this metaphor to convey the elemental fury with which this band demolishes an arena.  There are few acts today that match their energy and this show is 30 years after their first album came out! The fans who flooded Keybank Arena (home of the Sabres!) were in for a treat — an experience almost out of a time capsule. 

Rage Against the Machine does not sound like a legacy act;  these guys rock as hard and sound as good as they ever did.

First to take the stage for the Public Service Announcement Tour were rappers Run The Jewels.  Emcees Killer Mike and El-P have a hard-hitting, dissonant style which puts them well at home as an arena show opener. Indeed, Rage’s Zach De La Rocha has previously appeared as a guest on a Run The Jewel’s studio track and these two bands, although inhabiting different genres, both gel very well. Run The Jewels took the stage with furious rhymes, but also a huge amount of positive energy. You get the impression that these guys are good dudes who appreciate their fans and any chance to perform. And, they put on a great show. Highlights of their set were “Blockbuster Night, Pt.1”, “Ooh La La” and “Legend Has It”.  

Then it was time for Rage Against the Machine. Something important to note — Zach De La Rocha has been touring injured. He hurt his leg badly earlier in the tour and can’t walk. He has to be carried on and off the stage, currently performing sitting down. It looks extremely painful and you have to give him all the credit in the world for pushing through it. That said, it doesn’t affect his energy or delivery at all. De La Rocha sounds amazing and it almost even works for him in a way. From a sitting position, he howls and screams like a street preacher perched on the steps of a tenement building, spitting truth to a gathered crowd. 

We hope Zach feels better soon, but the live show doesn’t suffer at all as he recovers.

The band opened with a fiery “Bombtrack” that made the crowd surge against the rails and by the third song, “Bulls on Parade”, they were completely into it. They played “Testify” which ripped and then a couple songs later, one of my favorites of the night, “Wake Up”. Then, they brought Run The Jewels back out for a rendition of the RTJ song “Close Your Eyes [And Count to Fuck]” which sounded amazing. These acts really compliment each other well! Other highlights were “Calm Like a Bomb”, “War Within a Breath” and the closer, “Killing in the Name”.

This band has been around for three decades and it almost might be easy to write their 2022 tour off as a ‘nostalgia tour’, but that would be stupid. These guys haven’t missed a beat since the 1990s. They sound as fresh and as vital as they ever did and after a masterful performance like the one I just witnessed, all you can really ask for is maybe another studio album. Cheers to a great night in Buffalo!

Photography by Tom Fucillo

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