Rage Against The Machine
21st Century Apperances: 2008 Main Stage Headliner, 2000 Main Stage
The Defining Reading Moment: Strolling onstage dressed head to toe in Guantanamo Bay prison outfits and launching into “Bombtrack” to a thundering ovation.
Rage Against the Machine didn’t make it to our number one spot, but for the record, they’re my number one Reading and Leeds band of the 21st century.
I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the band play the main stage in 2000 in support of their covers album Renegades. That day they played mid card alongside the likes of Blink 182 and Slipknot and one of Reading’s most infamous joke performers, Daphne and Celeste. Though always a class act this exit did not befit a band of Rage’s pedigree, but they separated as an entity shortly after.
The band’s 2008 Reading return was a totally befitting way for a band of their calibre to bounce back however hotly anticipated it was. Rage’s started the festival ball rolling reforming and playing Coachella in 2007, this got minds boggling as to the potential for the reunion. When March 2008 rolled around and Rage were announced to headline the Friday I think it was the biggest thing to happen to Reading in all the time I’d been attending, the anticipation was immense.
I enjoyed their show itself deep in the middle of the crowd. For the first half of the set we seemed to move as one before things settled down, I’d never been in a crowd like it and haven’t been one that equalled it since. There was aggression and testosterone but it all seemed to be driven in the same direction rather than at each other as can sometimes be the way with a packed crowd watching a rock band. As a returning band every song was known inside out by the band so the sing-along was truly something else. I distinctly remember during “Know Your Enemy” Zack was singing all the lyrics as recorded on stage but there is a guttural “ugggh!” which appears on record but he did not perform as it’s not really part of the song as such… but the entire crowd made that noise. That’s going to stay with me forever I think. Adam McCartney
Reading festival ’08 was a special year for me. I had never been to a major UK music festival and the excitement of attending that year had gripped me long before I had even negotiated the notoriously tricky ticket websites on release day. It was a long and drawn out process that is extremely daunting to a newcomer in this scenario but I was determined to get tickets because that was the year I was finally going to see Rage Against The Machine. There is no doubt in my mind that if they had not been announced that year I would not have attended the festival, I wouldn’t have met the friends I have made through the festival and probably wouldn’t be sharing my experiences on Strictly today. I am a regular festival attendee now so in that respect I owe Rage a great deal for giving me that push I needed to find something I truly enjoy.
It’s been a fairly long time since their headline performance but I still remember exactly how I felt, it was a mix of excitement and a huge amount of nervousness. I was just so worried that the band I had waited so long to see weren’t going to show, or something would go wrong and they wouldn’t perform. It wasn’t helped by the fact I had been constantly reading reviews about the shows they had performed in the build up to Reading which received glowing feedback. Finally though it was time to see for myself and they most certainly did not disappoint. Donning one of the most iconic outfits of the 00′s in the Guantanamo Bay prisoner suits with black hoods, they launched ferociously into a set that has gone down in Reading history. 2008 was a good year for quality live acts but for me, nothing came close to Rage Against The Machine. Lewis Lowe
From the moment Rage Against The Machine were announced to headline the Reading and Leeds festivals in 2008 the anticipation and excitement instantly began to build. The band broke up in 2000 and didn’t reform until their performance at Coachella music festival in 2007 so a lot of their fans particularly in the UK hadn’t seen them live and thought they probably never would after the 2000 breakup. So there was a real sense of something special and unique that may never happen again at the festival.
My experience of them was at Reading festival where they performed on the Friday. Even entering the campsite on Wednesday you could already feel that real excitement and anticipation that I mentioned earlier. I was lucky enough to have experienced them live a few months earlier at Pinkpop festival in Holland but that didn’t take any of the buzz away for me, if anything it just heightened it, as I knew what to expect.
The time in between the sub headliners set finishing and RATM coming on stage you could really feel something in the air. They took to the stage in the same way that they did so at Pinkpop in the Orange Guantanamo Bay suits and black bags over their heads. As soon as they started their opening track ‘Bombtrack’ there was this instant explosion of uncontrolled energy and bodies slamming into each other.
Hit after hit was just adding fuel to a rabid crowd as the band and its mass of followers just fed off of each other. I heard a friend say before the set that ‘Bulls On Parade’ was going to level Berkshire and that wasn’t far from the truth.The band powered through ‘Bullet In Your Head’, ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘Guerilla Radio’ with the crowd showing no signs of tiring despite the frantic bouncing around. Zack de la Rocha did take a quick moment or two to get political messages across but the fans were hanging on his every word. ‘Killing In The Name’ was the closing track and the crowd delighted in singing it back to the group especially its famous chorus. With the declining quality of festival line-ups and the rising costs which are becoming a struggle for most to manage, it’s great to be able to say I was there in 2008 when Rage played. Craig Brooks