RATM Live at Voodoo

The crowd at Voodoo 2007 was waiting for the start of the Kings of Leon, when a local radio station DJ took the stage. He did the usual festival stuff; He asked the crowd if they were having a good time, if they liked the beer and booze local vendors were selling. Then he moved on to Rage. Paraphrasing, "These guys aren't playing every city in the US. Them coming here to New Orleans is a big fucking deal." And it was a BFD. One of the most controversial and amazing bands in the last 20 years brought their protest songs and anger to the Big Easy last night, and it was nothing short of spectacular.

Voodoo decided to place its two primary stages fairly close by and facing each other, so the stages alternated performances. Between 8pm and 9pm, while M.I.A. performed on the Sony stage, most of the festivals attendees steadily jockeyed for position. Never have I heard so many people state what time it was or how much time was left to wait. The scheduled start time of 9:10 came and went, and the crowd grew restless. but all was good when around 9:25, the stage went black, and a series of chain motors began to raise a huge backdrop of a single red star.

As the first notes of "Testify" sounded, the crowd surged. Most of the song was spent bouncing around and staying upright through none of my own power. The mood for the show was set as "Testify" reached its climax. With Zach De La Rocha commanding the crowd, all in attendance sang, "who controls the past now controls the future." Rage plowed through hit after hit, from "Bulls on Parade," to "People of the Sun." The crowd (and myself) almost screaming every lyric back at the stage. Tom Morello consistently awed the crowd with his amazing guitar work, but this show belonged to Zach. His presence on the stage, and the amazing fire in his eyes were impossible to ignore. As he rapped his way through "Rodeo," he pointed an imaginary shotgun at the crowd, and played to the home crowd by ad libbing, "I'm rolling down Canal st. with a shotgun."

Mosh pits broke out nearly everywhere in the crowd, but many were quite friendly with some just enjoying the open space to jump up and down, amazed at what they were witnessing. Those who fell on the muddy ground were quickly scooped up. I witnessed very few people that were looking to really rumble. Most just had a good time.

The end of the main set was a perfect duo of songs. "Sleep Now in the Fire" brought an amazing level of excitement for a crowd that had been rocking for an hour. So much so that as "Wake Up" was played, it was almost peaceful. As the slower middle part began, Zach decided it was time for a departure from lyrics. Prior, there had been almost no talking besides the songs themselves. He spoke of visiting the 9th ward, and having an epiphany. He claimed that the US government is currently at war in two places, Iraq and against the people of New Orleans. Some of the crowd cheered, but most seemed to dismiss it, possibly because much of the crowd were not locals. After completing the throat scorching chant of "Wake Up," RATM exited to a huge ovation.

As a veteran of RATM shows, I knew what would be coming after the break, and after about five minutes, they returned and the first notes of "Freedom" began. Building to the first climax, the band fell silent and the stage dark, save a spotlight on De La Rocha. He peered out into the waiting crowd, and shouted "Your anger is a gift." Freedom continued to its expected climax, followed by Morello quietly playing the notes that everyone expected. "Killing in the Name of" rocked the crowd yet again, with some improvised lyrics. "Some of those that burn crosses, are the ones who hold office" emphasised the strong anti-authority message that made RATM so exciting and so popular. As obvious as these messages are on their albums, when witnessing Rage live, it is still amazing to see how passionate De La Rocha is about his music and the causes they promote. After an amazing show like that, I might not go out and start rioting in the streets, but it does cross your mind.


willnireland@gmail.com said...

I too was at the RATM show at Voodoo '07 and I am still tingling after such an amazing experience. I saw them in '98 at the New Orleans Lakefront Arena "Battle of New Orleans" and they haven't lost a thing.
Does anyone remember which song it was that Morello was fluttering his fingers on opposite sides of the neck of his guitar??

Anonymous said...

i don't know where you were standing but your review does not at all capture how CRAZY the crowd was. i had been waiting in the front rows since galactic played at 2 oclock, and after the kings set, the crowd became unbearable as the assholes pushed. you say the crowd "surged" during testify but i was being tossed around in the air. you say most people were "enjoying their space" but that is a flat out lie. Then i read your pumpkins review and realised you must have stood in the back for both shows. The pumpkins may have not moved around much on stage but all their energy was in the music itself, and the crowd was pumped. i actually enjoyed the pumpkins show MORE because although rage WAS amazing, i couldn't just enjoy the music, as i was too worried about my own well being. my friend and i exited the pit after bombtrack, and i enjoyed the rest of the show from a safe distance. other than that, i really enjoyed your review.

Anonymous said...

Hector...I did the exact same thing, right after Kings I got pushed to the front row...it was PACKED. I stayed in the pit the entire time and LOVED every minute of it (minus the dry heaving), althogh it does help being 6'6 (thus able to bear the pit). Sucks you had to leave, but I can see why, it was packed, hot, pushy, and intense before the show even started, plus, yeah there were some assholes who psuehd for no reason.

Anonymous said...

for will the track wit the awsome solo was bombtrack i was front row for the whole show i drove down from missouri it was my 3rd roadtrip for my 3rd rage show and i have been front row everytime (im 5'6 and weigh 125) it was an amazing show i think it was the my second favorite of the 3 ive seen ( coachella is my favorite ) all in all it rocked your review was ok at best get in the front and stay there and then you can say you've really been to a rage show and willnireland if you use torrents im currently hosting hte voodoo torrent good luck finding me

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