Members of the band, which has long been known for its anti-authority stance and its music’s political messages, didn’t give impassioned speeches on the first stop of their reunion tour – singer Zack de la Rocha and his crew simply rocked while a giant screen behind them did the talking.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Piet Levy, on hand to review the show, filmed a segment of the concert during which de la Rocha repeatedly screamed “freedom” while a video screen flashed with statements about gun violence, Black maternal mortality and abortion access.
“Forced birth in a country that is the only wealthy country in the world without any guaranteed paid parental leave at the national level,” read the screen for several seconds, according to Levy’s video.
“Forced birth in a country where Black birth-givers experience maternal mortality two to three times higher than that of white birth-givers,” the screen read afterwards, citing a statistic from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The screen then read: “Forced birth in a country where gun violence is the number one cause of death among children and teenagers,” a reference to recent findings from health nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that firearms are the current leading cause of death for children and teens in the US.
The final message was brief but clear: “ABORT THE SUPREME COURT.” Many audience members erupted into cheers.
For some of the show, guitarist Tom Morello also wore a shirt that read “I [Heart] CRT,” a reference to critical race theory, an educational lens that incorporates the history of racism and inequality into American history lessons, Rolling Stone reported.
Rage Against the Machine’s anti-establishment music, which criticizes wealth inequality, racism and powerful institutions, has become their signature. One of the group’s most famous songs, “Killing in the Name,” was inspired by the beating of Rodney King at the hands of Los Angeles police and the protests against police brutality that followed.