In November, Rage Against the Machine announced they would be playing together again after a nine-year hiatus. Now, the outspoken rap metal legends will embark on a comeback tour that consists of over 40 stops, and one of those is the only Texas stop, in El Paso.
A Dallas appearance hasn’t been announced yet, but since the band has teased more to come, we’ll just assume that it will happen at some point. Sure, it didn’t happen the first time the band reunited in 2007, nor did it happen on subsequent runs, but as they say, the third time’s the charm.
And even if it doesn’t pan out, North Texans have been lucky enough to bear witness to five previous Rage Against the Machine shows.
House of Pain’s Self-Titled Tour – Monday, March 8, 1993, at Bomb Factory
Four months after the release of their self-titled debut album, Rage Against the Machine toured as openers for House of Pain, who are now wildly regarded as one-hit wonders. Gotta start somewhere!
Lollapalooza 1993 – Sunday, Aug. 1, 1993, at Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre
It’s hard to imagine Dinosaur Jr. and Front 242 getting higher festival billing than Rage Against the Machine, but they were still a new band at the time, and it probably didn’t help that other controversies overshadowed them. The day before this stop in Houston, Lollapalooza made national news after three TV stations filed complaints against the event’s security, for allegedly roughing up crew members.
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Self-Titled Tour – Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1993, at Deep Ellum Live
As you can probably infer from the first half of this list, Rage Against the Machine toured excessively in support of their debut full-length. On this particular run, post-hardcore band Quicksand opened for the band. Not much information is available on this particular show, but if accounts from neighboring tour stops are to be applied here, vocalist Zack de la Rocha called Christopher Columbus a “syphilis-ridden rapist” and said, “the FBI and the KGB are the same thing” (though, to be fair, the KGB didn’t carry out COINTELPRO).
U2’s PopMart Tour – Monday, May 12, 1997, at Cotton Bowl
In the summer of 1997, Rage Against the Machine opened 10 dates for one of the music industry’s biggest names, U2. Fans of both bands scoffed at this billing for its obvious stylistic incompatibilities and the slightly less obvious political differences between both camps, but unexpected common ground was found when U2 made the most cringeworthy posturing against consumerism in the form of vocalist Bono pointing to a fiberglass golden arch resembling the McDonald's logo on the stage’s backdrop and saying, “This is what you worship.” Bruh, that’s so deep!
Evil Empire Tour – Friday, Sep. 5, 1997, at Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre
This was a rather interesting period for Rage Against the Machine and their touring co-headliner, The Roots. This tour stop happened almost a year and a half after the release of the album it was supporting, and two years later, the band would release its follow-up, The Battle of Los Angeles. The Roots were one year into supporting their 1996 full-length, Illadelph Halflife, and were a year and some change shy of dropping their 1999 magnum opus, Things Fall Apart. Wu-Tang Clan was originally tapped as a co-headliner, but for unknown reasons, they dropped out a week before this show was scheduled to take place, prompting Rage Against the Machine’s team to get The Roots in their place. Atari Teenage Riot opened.
Prophets of Rage’s Make America Rage Again Tour – Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, at Gexa Energy Pavilion
So no, this isn’t a Rage Against the Machine show, but Prophets of Rage has three-quarters of Rage Against the Machine’s lineup, with Zack de la Rocha being the only outlier. Sure, the same is true for Audioslave, but unlike Prophets of Rage, they tried to embody a different spirit, and they were actually good. It’s hard to tell where Prophets of Rage went wrong, because in theory, combining the political activism of Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill and Public Enemy should have made for an ambitious crossover, but the supergroup’s self-titled album was so insipid and one-dimensional that it feels wrong even putting this show on this list. Be that as it may, it’s only fair to do so since they played 11 Rage Against the Machine songs at this show (with Chuck D providing vocals).