The question, really, is whether it will make any difference. In a country where the division between left and right has been taken to extremes on almost every political issue, in a country where racism is arguably more open and prevalent than it was during the Civil Rights era, in a country where people are dying because the cost of healthcare is too much for them to stay alive, and in a country where the three richest Americans have as much wealth as the bottom half of the country, can Rage Against The Machine actually help sway voters?
The chances might actually be quite high. While the ‘Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!’ rallying cry of Killing In The Name, the band’s best-known song, can and has been dismissed as profane, juvenile outrage, there’s a lot more to it than that. In a few simple repeated phrases, it outlines the systemic racism of the USA and its police force, as well as the subservience of the people in the face of oppression. It’s the band’s quintessential call to arms, that has a lot more substance than the novelty of it beating an X-Factor hopeful to the top of the charts would have you believe. And live, the band will just not harness the ferocious energy of Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, but be able to talk about the issues – such as, say, immigration control – that will directly be affecting the communities they’re playing in.
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And while the band have taken flak for headlining one of the most corporate festivals out there, as well as always being signed to a major label, that’s actually one of the most subversive things they could do. Because while it’s unfair to make sweeping generalisations, it’s like your average Coachella attendee cares as much about politics as they do about music – which is to say not very much. So unlike a small punk show where, on the whole, everybody is of the same mindset, Rage Against The Machine, by taking to that stage, will be addressing thousands of people who otherwise wouldn’t be paying attention.