There weren’t any frills, upside down American flags or even bongs as tall as most humans. Prophets of Rage made it clear they were on a mission when they came to the Paradise Rock Club on Sept. 7, and that mission was to bring the gospel of rock and roll to the masses while promoting social and political change—and boy, was that mission ever accomplished.
Playing to a capacity crowd already buzzing from the house music and turntable wizardry of DJ Lord (yes, Nirvana and Metallica songs were involved), the entire venue erupted into chaotic fanfare as each member of the supergroup took the stage with power fists raised to the sky, letting the insanity reach a buzzing plateau before blasting the speakers with “Prophets of Rage” from co-frontman Chuck D’s Public Enemy catalog.
Chuck D was energetic and involved with the music, but it’s nearly impossible to capture the musical chemistry and flow of such well-respected and intelligent musicians single-handedly. Enter B-Real.
Following “Unfuck The World,” a P.O.R. original featured on their debut album, fans seemed to put aside the long-standing question of “Where’s Zack?” as the Cypress Hill ringleader mixed his hip-hop flair with the signature Rage Against the Machine anger for Rage classics “Testify” and “Take the Power Back.” After the live debuts of “Living on the 110” and “Hail to the Chief,” the mosh pit erupted, almost volcanically, when guitarist Tom Morello chimed in with the mounting riff of “Guerilla Radio,” and that level of energy only increased from that point on.
Trailing the live debut of yet another Prophets-penned tune, “Legalize Me,” the room turned back to 1989 for a Rage-ified version of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” during which Morello made a snack of his guitar strings, playing a face-melting solo riff with his teeth, which in turned revealed the message of “FUCK TRUMP” in big black letters taped to the back of his trusty six-string.
Giving Morello and his fellow Machine bandmates—bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk—a short break from the absolute mayhem provoked by the electricity in the air, B-Real and Chuck D threw their fists in the air for a mash-up medley of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill “junk food” favorites like “Hand on the Pump,” “Can’t Truss it,” “Insane in the Brain,” “Bring the Noise,” “I Ain’t Going Out Like That” and “Welcome to The Terrordome,” before closing out the short-lived dance party with House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”
Morello and company returned to the stage, cranked the Marshall amps to 11 and resumed the mayhem with “Sleep Now in the Fire” before cutting pandemonium for a bit to pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell, whom Morello played alongside in Audioslave, with an emotionally charged, crowd-performed rendition of “Like a Stone.”
The end of the night was closing in but not before “Radical Eyes,” “Know Your Enemy,” “Strength in Numbers,” “Bullet in the Head” and “How I Could Just Kill a Man” came and went with such force that the sudden hush that swept over the room came almost as a surprise. Morello’s guitar, draped in a veil of intense blue light, weeped a sullen fluctuation of soft feedback before the floor shook with the opening riff of “Bulls on Parade,” with Wilk hitting the drums as hard as anyone could ever possibly slap the skins, before sending fans home screaming the repetitive choruses of “Killing in The Name Of,” with Commerford rumbling the opening bassline and B-Real replacing the opening, “Some of those that work forces are the same burn crosses,” lyric with “Some of those that hold office are the same that burn crosses,” a stunt that was met, expectedly, with pandemonium and cheers.
The Prophets of Rage showed the Paradise crowd that it is indeed possible to both melt faces and attempt to disassemble hatred and bigotry simultaneously, and in a time where their message of resistance, their soundtrack to the revolution, is in such high demand, expect to see these music activism vanguards around for a long time to come.