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Quartet Explodes with Hip Rage Against The Machine

For its sheer sonic thunder and disarmingly powerful presence, Rage Against The Machine Against The Machine reigns as one of the most dynamic bands currently on tour. The Los Angeles-based quartet stormed into Varsity Arena Friday evening and raised the temperature in the cavernous venue to the point of combustion.

Although the group performed only 11 songs over the space of an hour, it was more than enough. The concert proved to be an overwhelmingly exhausting affair for the sell-out crowd. Long before the show had ended, hundreds of bare-chested, sweat-soaked and wilting fans had fled the stifling heat and deafening decibel level of the main room for the cooler, more tranquil hallways surrounding the throbbing hockey arena. Understandably so.

It's not Rage Against The Machine's mandate to offer the listener any sense of comfort. While Tom Morello's guitar churned and screamed, the rhythm section of drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Bob pummeled the audience of 5,000. Underpinning this raving din was vocalist Zack De La Rocha, whose incessantly coarse rapping and incendiary lyrics earned the band it's name. De La Rocha Rage Against The Machined, ranted and shredded his vocal cords, spewing forth a series of scathing diatribes about American military intervention around the world, crumbling inner cities in the U.S. and the abusive excesses of unbridled capitalism.

In some respects, this extravagant noise worked. De La Rocha lunged and lurched across the stage, a very dangerous looking loose cannon, literally and figuratively. And an American flag, draped over some stage equipment and bearing the words "failure, failure" as well as the numerals 666 - the number of the Beast - made it's point, however heavy-handedly.

Where the show faltered was in the dreadful sound. Several of the songs were indistinguishable. Much of the visceral punch in such numbers as "People Of The Sun", "Know Your Enemy", "A Bullet In The Head" and "Bulls On Parade" was lost because the lyrics were almost entirely inaudible, due to the acoustics. And then of course, there is the irony of this most vitriolic of anti-establishment bands - suddenly possessed of a chart-topping, multi-million-selling album - recording for, and receiving royalty cheques from, one of the world's largest multinational corporations (Epic).

So Rage Against The Machine all you want, guys. But in some small way, you're part of the machine.

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