If pioneering rap-metal foursome Rage Against The Machine embodied the boiling point of Gen-X angst and disillusionment, then Zack De La Rocha was the voice of that revolution.
Riding in on tidal waves of distortion and feedback provided by guitarist Tom Morello, De La Rocha’s seething, politically charged lyrics were a vicious counterattack against societal oppression throughout the 1990s. As the rapper/lyricist once explained, “I’m interested in spreading ideas [of social activism] through art, because music has the power to cross borders, to break military sieges and to establish real dialogue.”
While tensions within the band eventually led Zack to part ways with Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford in 2000, the inherently volatile group was responsible for some of the most iconic music of the ’90s. RATM made amends recently, however, and after years of COVID delays finally mounted its long-awaited reunion tour last year. The tour was confronted by a number of challenges, including De La Rocha tearing his Achilles tendon two shows into the tour and Morello getting tackled by security at a different stop, but nothing could stop the band from delivering its sociopolitical message of defiance that has maintained its relevancy after 20-plus years.
In honor of De La Rocha’s 53rd birthday today, January 12th, take a look back at Rage in their prime, performing at the infamous Woodstock ’99 in the video below.
Rage Against The Machine – Woodstock ’99 – 7/24/99 [Full-Show Video]
[Video: RATM on MV]
Setlist: Rage Against The Machine | Woodstock ’99 | Griffiss Air Force Base | Rome, NY | 7/24/99
Set: No Shelter, People of the Sun, Know Your Enemy, Born of a Broken Man, Vietnow, Bullet in the Head, The Ghost of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen), Bombtrack, Wake Up
Encore: Bulls on Parade, Freedom, Township Rebellion, Killing in the Name
[Originally published January 12th, 2021]