, 07.26.2022 11:37 AM

My latest: Some “rage. Some “machine.”

Rage Against The Machine.

Okay, fine. But where was the rage? In particular: who is the machine?

So, Rage Against The Machine is playing across Canada this Summer – Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City. And Toronto.

In the unlikely event that you’re not familiar with them, they’re a Los Angeles rock band, one of the biggest in the world. They’ve been around for a couple decades, and have sold millions and millions of records. And, notably, they style themselves as revolutionaries.

Their revolutionary politics are revealed in some of their hits. On ‘Killing In The Name,’ they sing: “You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites.” On ‘Take The Power Back,’ they sing: “The present curriculum, I put my fist in ‘em. Eurocentric every last one of ‘em.” On ‘Know Your Enemy,’ they sing: “I’ll rip the system. Mind of a revolutionary, so clear the lane.”

“Put my fist in ‘em.”

Anyway, whether you’re hoisting a revolutionary fist or not, it can’t be disputed that Rage Against The Machine are pretty clear about their politics. At their Canadian shows, the band displayed big all-caps messages behind them as they played. “SETTLER COLONIALISM IS MURDER” was one. Another: “LAND BACK.” Statistics about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well.

During their Canadian tour, too, the band has arguably put their money where their mouths are. They’ve made some donations to Indigenous and environmental groups.

So, in their lyrics and whatnot, Rage Against The Machine is preoccupied with revolution. Fine. But then there’s the issue of their other actions, their other deeds. Because that stuff is a bit of a problem.

At their Toronto show, at an arena named after a multinational bank, there were a lot of things on display that didn’t seem very revolutionary. Their actions and deeds, there, didn’t seem very consistent, either.

Their merch tables, for instance. Long lines snaked around the arena, with hundreds of mainly guys – unshaven, portly guys, wearing Metallica and Genesis shirts and flip-flops – cheerfully waiting to buy Rage Against The Machine stuff.

There were lots of T-shirts for sale, at $50 each. Ball caps for $40. Long-sleeved shirts were bit more, at $65. You could get posters, too, listing the Rage Against The Machine tour dates and not much else, for $65, which seemed a bit steep for a piece of paper.

The big-ticket item, however, was the Rage Against The Machine hoodie. Those were going for one hundred dollars. One hundred bucks! Given that mass-produced, one-colour hoodies cost less than ten bucks to manufacture…well, you can do the math. The revolutionaries are making a lot of dough on those hoodies.

The attendees, too. Some of them paid as much as $300 to be there, and nearly 20,000 were, over two nights. You can do the math on that one, as well. The band’s not saying, but that’s millions and millions of dollars, folks. (The aforementioned Indigenous and environmental groups, meanwhile, were donated $75,000. Total. Together.)

At one point, during a bit of a break, the band displayed footage of a police cruiser on fire. People in the crowd cheered. Not cheering were the dozens of uniformed Toronto police that were present at the show. Someone insisted that the police be there; we don’t know who. We do know, however, that Rage Against The Machine didn’t bar them from attending.

Rage Against The Machine can’t be blamed, one supposes, for playing in an arena where beer was $14, a slice of pizza was $9, and where a bit of “ultra premium” liquor will set you back $24. But perhaps someone had placated them by giving them some “collector” soft drink cups ($11).

Anyway, at one point, the hypocrisy was thicker than the dope smoke, and this writer couldn’t take it anymore. I made my way to the exits, passing a merch table as I did so.

I couldn’t make out the label on the T-shirts, so I bought one: fifty bucks. No cash, only credit cards (natch).

Do you think that Rage Against The Machine T-shirt was union-made? Do you think it was a fair-wage T-shirt? Not on your life. It was from a sweatshop in Bangladesh.

Hit the doors, head shaking.

Rage Against The Machine?

They are the machine.


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Pipes says:

    “Give up, just quit, because in this life, you can’t win. Yeah, you can try, but in the end you’re just gonna lose, big time, because the world is run by the Man. The Man, oh, you don’t know the Man. He’s everywhere. In the White House… down the hall… Ms. Mullins, she’s the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone, he’s burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank! And there used to be a way to stick it to the Man. It was called rock ‘n roll, but guess what, oh no, the Man ruined that, too, with a little thing called MTV! So don’t waste your time trying to make anything cool or pure or awesome ’cause the Man is just gonna call you a fat washed up loser and crush your soul. So do yourselves a favor and just GIVE UP!” words to rock by-Dewey Finn School of Rock. Fuck RATM

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    EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    It might be a by-law that paid duty officers are required at large concerts. This would be at the expense of the venue. Of course it is de rigueur for fifty something aging rock stars to stick it to “the man” while up on stage, at least until somebody steals their instruments, or they are ripped off by their managers or a promoter. Then they sing a different tune (terrible pun, but I couldn’t help myself). I don’t listen to the “music” performed by RATM (if you want to dignify what this group does with that description) and to use a great Canadian metaphor, I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. But if you, or anyone else wants to listen to them, hey fill your boots. I note that the band had broken up, but selflessly decided to reunite for a world tour. In other words, when they say it isn’t about the money, it’s about the money. As far as political lectures from the stage, it’s all BS….I don’t pay for a concert ticket to have some sanctimonious millionaire hypocrite tell me what the “eff” is going on. There is an anecdote we have all heard about Bono stopping in the middle of a U2 concert and clapping, then telling the audience that every time he claps a child was dying. Someone from the front row then yelled to him to stop clapping, if that was the case. Point taken.

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    RocknRoll Animal says:

    Congratulations on missing the point. You were appalled by the price of the shirts, and yet you bought one.

    Love how you skimmed over the charitable donations – that 75K was just from their Hamilton show. The Toronto shows combined resulted in $182K in donations.

    Police presence is standard at huge stadium shows and they are hired by the venue and promoters, not the bands.

    Finally, you do realize that mounting a tour that size requires a large crew? That the tour revenue doesn’t go just to the band, but their stage crew, lighting crew, guitar and drum techs, etc?

    But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story, right?

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      Warren says:

      Your servility is amusing. Also: fuck off.

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      Sean says:

      …sigh… the only reason they make donations ….is so they can say they made donations…. RATM is fakety fake fake fakearoo.

      RATM = Really About The Money

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    Andrew T. says:

    Don’t feel so bad, nothing speaks to the success of the revolution than having doctors moonlighting to earn American dollars selling Che-shirts to Western bourgeoisie tourists on the streets of Havana.

    Viva la Revolution, indeed!

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    Sean says:

    In Canada we have fake, yet trendy fads that allow affluent, urban white people to imagine they are contributing to… something…

    Orange shirts… “Vote for CBC” lawn signs… “Basic income now” bumper stickers… Kurt Cobain on the PA system in an upscale chain menswear store. Woke training imposed in the workplace by HR departments desperately trying to appear hip. Local politicians who spend their day retweeting PC memes and are too lazy to knock on doors…. All OK’d by the Arts Dept at your publicly funded local University….. Cranking out more and more intolerant, incapable and insolvent grads by the thousands every year.

    It’s not about doing anything. Its all just virtue signaling… The mating call to connect and feel included amongst other lazy hipsters.

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    PJH says:

    Kinda makes that John Lydon video for British butter rather innocuous now, innit?…….

    They don’t call it “show business” for nothin’…..

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    Robert White says:

    The last concert I attended was Bob Dylan at the National Arts Center Ottawa in the mid 90s. He complained about having a guitar stolen on the day prior in Ottawa and he claimed it was likely ‘an inside job’.

    I think I paid $25.00 for the ticket.

    Bluesfest in Ottawa now receives corporate welfare of $10 million CDN from the Government of Canada, but I can’t attend because I can’t afford it.

    Screw organized concerts and their greedy promoters.

    And screw The Man as always wherever it’s convenient.


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    Steve T says:

    This is the perfect representation of how the world works now. People want to FEEL like they are “raging against the machine”, so they say the right things on social media and at cocktail parties. If they are really bold, they write letters to the editor and attend protests.
    The reality is that most barely understand the causes they are supporting, and do so because it is trendy and makes them feel better about their own shortcomings. Yes, I’m not contributing much to the economy or doing anything tangible with my life, but look at all the scorn I can produce against other people! I’m bad, but they are worse!
    True support of a cause necessitates understanding the myriad nuances and subtleties that go along with the issue. But that’s hard, and requires work, so much easier to just say all the trendy things and attend concerts of rock bands that provide a similar generic viewpoint.

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    Derek Pearce says:

    Well welcome to my cynicism — Killing In The Name was released 2 months after I started Uni and I’ve been rolling my eyes at RATM ever since. Madonna seemed more revolutionary to me at the time. Seriously.

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    Jason says:

    To paraphrase Thatcher:

    The problem with the celebrity socialists is that they never seem to run out of other peoples’ money.

    Go figure.

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