The memories I have of this show are just as much about the trip as they are the show itself as this was my first time ever visiting San Francisco. I already had a reason to visit because my sister had recently moved to the Bay Area, but once Rage Against the Machine announced they would be reuniting from a seven-year hiatus to only play this show and a handful of others the trip became a double win.
Bob drove Marvin and I from San Diego through night to avoid traffic and we eventually arrived sometime Friday morning. My sister let us into her place and we immediately crashed for several hours. Once we got up we made our way into the city proper for some shenanigans with my sister, her roommate Eve, Eve’s boyfriend Sam and Marvin’s friend Email who had joined up at my sister’s place during our “nap.”
Numerous drinks later + two more ladies + one more dude and somehow my three friends got separated from the group and were not reachable by phone. One strip club, one limo ride, one street fire alarm box pulled (I thought it was a joke) and one chance meeting with Flavor Flav and we found ourselves at a party he told us about in one of the craziest houses I have ever been in. It was a multi-level house that was set up like a club with each room being a different theme. The room where literally everything in it was white and fuzzy is the one I remember the most. Long story short the house was so big that after several more drinks I became convinced that everyone had left me there because I could not find anyone I knew. After finding out the hard way that BART shut down at midnight I ended up taking a $75 taxi back to my sister’s place and making a makeshift bed on her front porch with the boxes she had recently unpacked but not yet disposed of.
The next morning I spoke to my lost friends who had somehow made their way down by the airport and got a hotel room for the night. Once they finally made it back to my sister’s after a long hung-over BART ride they cleaned up and we were out the door again for a little pre-funking closer to where we would end up for the concert, McCovey Cove Parking Lot next to AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play.
Rock the Bells was originally an annual hip-hop festival only held in Southern California but had spread to other cities since the inception in 2004. The event started at noon but we essentially treated the show as a Rage Against the Machine concert with lots of hip-hop opening acts. We finally went into the show just as Wu-Tang Clan hit the stage. There were a lot of hands in the air waving from side to side, a lot of herb being smoked and like Slipknot, a lot of dudes onstage. They were entertaining but I was there to see Rage.
The only other time I had seen Rage was when I saw them at the Gorge almost exactly 10 years before this show so I was pretty excited to see them again. Since that show Rage had put out The Battle of Los Angeles and Renegades. From the first note of “Testify” to the last note of “Killing in the Name” Rage was every bit as fierce and relevant as they were when they first hit the scene. They flat out crushed it. We had a decent view of the stage because being taller than six feet is definitely advantageous in these situations. The crowd was no comparison to the Gorge show where the entire audience was pogo-ing up and down but to be fair no show is quite like a Gorge show.
SETLIST: Testify, People of the Sun, Bombtrack, Know Your Enemy, Vietnow, Bullet in the Head, Renegades of Funk, Guerrilla Radio, Calm Like A Bomb, Sleep Now in the Fire, Bulls on Parade, Wake Up, Freedom, Township Rebellion, Killing in the Name