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The Battle for Buffalo: Rage Against the Machine and Run the Jewels at Key Bank Center

Photos and Review by Chris Besaw

This past Monday night in the All-American City that is Buffalo NY, thousands of fans converged on the Key Bank Center awaiting the return of Rage Against the Machine!

Finally, after a two year wait the Public Service Announcement 2022 tour has been in full effect and it could not come at a better time either.

Starting off the night was the hip hop duo, Run the Jewels. Run the Jewels, consisting of Brooklyn based rapper and producer Jaime “El-P” Meline and Atlanta based rapper Mike “Killer Mike” Render rolled out onto the stage with their DJ Gabe “Trackstar the DJ” Moskoff and after the “We Are the World” intro ended, the duo started things off with title track “Run the Jewels.” Honestly, I have only heard of them by name and didn’t know what to expect since it was my first time seeing them perform. I must be honest; I was impressed by them.

I was blown away by their incredible rapping skills (and dance moves) and the energy they bring to a packed arena! Even from photographing in the pit, you could feel the crowd’s excitement and energy as these two commanded the stage. Killer Mike took a moment to show some love to all the photographers in pit saying thank you and asking, “why is it that all photographers always look so good while we are up here looking fat and sweaty?” A few songs that really caught my attention were “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” “ooh la la” and “Stay Gold.” The duo powered through an impressive eleven songs before taking their bows and thanking the crowd for coming out early and checking them out. Their performance definitely left me a fan.

Finally, the moment has come for the near SOLD-OUT crowd at the Key Bank Center, the return of Rage Against the Machine! After a two year wait and a brief public service announcement coming out of the speakers, the band exploded onto the stage starting off their set with “Bombtrack.” A very fitting way to show the fans what they were in store for the remainder of the night. Two years of anticipation and an incredibly challenging, polarized political climate in the US created the perfect storm of music and the fans were digging it.

Zack de la Rocha (vocals) with Tom Morello (guitar), Brad Wilks (drums) and Tim Commerford (bass, backing vocals) played an amazing career spanning set with some of my personal favorites including, “People of the Sun,” “Guerilla Radio” and an emotionally intense version of the Bruce Springsteen track, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Although Zack de la Rocha had to sit because of a leg injury, it didn’t stop him from raising his fist in solidarity with the fans and rocking out. In addition to their amazing music, the band displayed powerful visuals in the backdrop, each one a hint at what song would be played next.

Another highlight from their performance was Run the Jewels joining them on stage to play their song “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck).”  You could feel the deep respect these two groups of musicians have for one another. Zack de la Rocha and company played a solid hard hitting 18-song setlist before thanking fans and exiting. I have to say that I had wondered coming into this show, will they still sound as good as they when I first saw them at the Alumni Arena in Amherst, NY in 1993 or when I saw them at one of their career peaks in 1999? To my amazement, they sounded better close to thirty years later! I’m not sure what they have in store for their future, however, if you have the opportunity to see them on this tour, I strongly encourage you to, you will not be disappointed.

Setlist

  1. Bombtrack
  2. People of the Sun
  3. Bulls on Parade
  4. Bullet in the Head
  5. Testify
  6. Take the Power Back
  7. Guerilla Radio
  8. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) (Run the Jewels cover)
  9. Down Rodeo
  10. Know Your Enemy
  11. Calm Like a Bomb
  12. Sleep Now in the Fire
  13. The Ghost of Tom Joad ( Bruce Springsteen Cover)
  14. Freedom
  15. Township Rebellion
  16. Killing in the Name

 

 

 

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