As some of you know, I spent all day yesterday in Toronto and went to the Prophets of Rage show that was happening at the Amphitheatre.
To begin with, the Amphitheatre is an alright venue. It’s a nice place to see larger bands that otherwise would be booked in a venue with no open floor, because they do have a general admission section. It’s also outside, which is great, since the breeze usually makes life easier in terms of breathing.
However, every time I’ve been there, the sound has been meh at best, and I think that is due to the shape of the building and not the sound guy. Standing in certain spots sounds fine, while others are tolerable at best. It’s an odd phenomenon. Not to mention, it’s located in a really inconvenient place, which means that on top of driving into downtown Toronto, I had to get on the train (not the subway) and get off after one stop. The last train of the night happens immediately after the end of most concerts and is easy to miss, which causes chaos. On top of that, add a venue that you can only get in and out of using a series of narrow walkways and bridges, and it’s a nightmare.
But enough about the venue.
WAKRAT was the first band of the evening, featuring Tim Cummerford of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave on bass and vocals. They played material from their upcoming debut, out Nov. 11th, proclaiming that all the songs were written about “your mom”. They claimed to be from France but are in fact from L.A.
Overall, they are heavily alt-punk influenced while also incorporating electronic elements and the occasional jazzy touch. The way they played with time signatures was very interesting, and made sense within their musical context. They were entertaining to watch, and were a very high-energy act. The commentary between songs was nothing short of hilarious.
However, from where I was sitting, the sound was horrible. I could barely tell what was going on most of the time because there was way too much kick in the mix. Generally, the mix sounded messy and not well done at all, though I don’t imagine this is by any means the fault of the band. I expect I’ll give their debut a proper listen when it comes out.
I was surprised that these guys were on the bill. I was somewhat pissed when I found that out actually, since my only prior experience with the band was this extremely popular song which annoys me to no end.
I had extremely low expectations for these guys, but then they came out onstage with actual instruments that they clearly had the ability to play, which was more than I expected. They had some moments that were slightly heavy and pretty cool, but they seemed to always ruin them by turning it into something designed to appeal to twelve year old girls.
When I got home I listened to some more of their discography, and really didn’t hear anything that I liked, which was disappointing considering that they weren’t bad live. The drummer in particular was great, and played a tight solo.
Overall, I wish I could say that this American electronic rock band surprised me, but all I can say about them is that my opinion of them rose from a dislike to a strong “nah”.
Before Prophets of Rage came out, DJ Lord (also part of Prophets of Rage) came out to play a brief set. He is a DJ, but not the usual kind, that slightly sways back and forth while playing songs from their iPod. No- DJ Lord, I can safely say, is the real deal. I have never seen an actual DJ at work before, and it was extremely cool to watch. Though he played some questionable songs (Enter Sandman and Smells Like Teen Spirit, to name a few), his obvious skill made the experience an enjoyable one. This isn’t the type of thing I would normally see on my own, so it was a great surprise that made me aware of the extreme skill involved in being a true DJ.
Prophets of Rage
For those not familiar with Prophets of Rage, they are essentially a revived version of Rage Against the Machine sans Zack de la Rocha, with the addition of DJ Lord, Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. They are a very politically charged band, aiming to give youth (and people in general) an outlet, via the combined forced of rap/metal/hip hop, in relationship to the increasingly corrupt state of the United States and the world.
They performed a variety of songs, from Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, their own original material and a couple covers.
They were absolutely great. Tom Morello sounded like some sort of alien creature, making endless weird noises on his extremely political looking guitars. The Cummerford/Wilk combination, as always, was an extremely powerful one. The two of them seem to have some sort of rare chemistry, and seem like they’ve been playing together many years longer than they have.
The only part of the show that I didn’t particularly like was when everyone but DJ Lord, B-Real and Chuck D left the stage and did a few songs on their own- I’m not a fan of hip hop at all, and I was there to see Rage, not the two guys who were there to fill the gap left by Zack de la Rocha. I’m sure it would have been better if I enjoyed hip hop. I even tried to sit down at one point during this part, but some fat bastard had stolen my seat, and I’d forgotten my harpoon at home.
After that, the full band came back out, and then… This happened.
Now, I don’t know where he came from or why he was even in Toronto, but Dave Grohl came out to play a cover of Kick Out the Jams. I was quite stunned, to say the least, and even now after doing extensive research I still can’t quite figure out what brought him to Toronto. But it happened and it was fuckin’ awesome.
The highlight of the show was easily Killing in the Name- a Rage Against the Machine song.
This is a great song in general, and was always high up on my list of great Rage songs, but the live performance of this song easily eclipsed that of any other throughout the entire night. You could practically feel the raw anger emanating from every member of the band and, in turn, the audience.
• • •
All in all, I would recommend this show to any fans of Rage Against the Machine. I had a good time generally, although I would’ve undoubtedly enjoyed it more, were I a fan of hip hop or electronic music. Prophets of Rage is a worthy continuation of the Rage legacy and I was not disappointed at all, though coming in I didn’t know what to expect.
I didn’t even miss the train on the way back. I call that a win.