Coming into the office last Wednesday I had talked myself into staying home on a weeknight. But by mid-morning I was twitchy from spending the past three hours spinning around in my office chair faking there was work. It became ridiculous to argue the necessity of remaining home to rest only to repeat this monotony when Prophets of Rage was playing Cincinnati that night.
For the unfamiliar, this 2016 supergroup is composed of two members from Public Enemy (DJ Lord and rapper Chuck D); rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill; and three members of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave (bassist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk).
These disparate elements may have come from different rebel outfits, but all these boys are heavy hitters who lost tolerance with the mountain of election year bullshit they deemed acceptable and decided to make some noise confronting the lies.
I gave consideration to how seeing Rage without their militant vocalist Zack de la Rocha was not ideal, but came to a conclusion that the authenticity of marginalization reflected through Chuck D and B-Real would be a flavorful two-headed serpent, unleashing inherent venom from its fangs that all these artists’ display when performing.
I made one phone call to get the green light on taking our 13 and 11 year olds along, then connected with pavilion seats midway back and this harebrained idea took flight.
Gabriel and Jacy knew a few tunes from Rage, Audiosoave, Public Enemy and hits from Cypress Hill, but had no comparison for the ferocity and volume that came with these artists live. For me, this was about the boys making the connection between political protest and musical expression, along with the chance to see Chuck D and Tom Morello.
AwolNation opened, who played a decent set, highlighted by their 2011 hit, “Sail.”
When the house lights dropped after intermission, air raid sirens blared in the darkness and searchlights exploded as Prophets of Rage hit the stage. Cincinnati was a late stop on the band’s “Make America Rage Again Tour,” running from May into October. The playlist was an assemblage of protest tunes and cultural anthems borrowed from the members’ bands, with a few originals.
It may not be Rage, but these angsty bastards transferred the ferocity in sufficient standard to bring these colossal tunes their necessary raw energy. After the namesake opener, a triple shot of Rage-friendly tunes was fired across the bow. “Guerrilla Radio,” followed by “Bombtrack” and Audioslave’s “Cochise,” which was finished off with the Public Enemy tune-out classic “She Watch Channel Zero.”
The middle of the show bogged down with all the switching of material and singers, but it allowed the audience to catch its collective breath, coming back on point with two Rage monsters “Sleep Now in the Fire” and Bullet in the Head.”
Morello was a mesmerizing pied piper. His personalized guitars and clothing speak volumes about his mindset and message. He appears perfectly calm until the first chord. His body is then carried upward on the explosive rhythms, possessed by the beat, as sweat streams from the brim of his soaked baseball hat.
The show finished with Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and Rage’s “Bulls on Parade,” followed by their 1992 debut hit “Killing in the Name.” For sure it was the rebellious “Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me” version.
It was a thunderous show that pleased on several levels, but also left one a bit shell-shocked and lacking from a consistency standpoint with all the various artists playing songs from each other’s catalogues.
Before heading back south, the kids and I needed nourishment. We stopped in Cincinnati for classic drunk pizza from Adriatico’s. They are open just late enough and offer outstanding cheesy goodness, heavy on the toppings. It was spot on and brought a welcomed comatose state to my young car passengers. I on the other hand remained wide awake as my blood gesticulated with bass heavy thumps and visionary guitar work all the way back courtesy of Prophets of Rage.