Missoula Bookworm Breaks Down Rage Against The Machine, Makes You Dance
The best night of the month is here, Dead Hipster's 'I Love The 90's Dance Party' night at The Badlander. Each 2nd Friday of the month, CB from Dead Hipster is our guest blogger, sharing his memories of the 90's, causing us to remember ours as well.
Can we talk about Rage Against the Machine real quick? Not only did this band (hereinafter referred to as RATM) absolutely rock my teen world, their 1996 album inspired me to track down and devour something like 50 books over the course of 2 years. More specifically, RATM inspired me to stop reading books exclusively written by Stephen King and Dean Koontz (no offense to them, I still love their books) and seek out authors like Frantz Fanon and Ben Bagdikian, among many, many others. (If you're unfamiliar with the liner notes of "Evil Empire", there's a big photo spread of recommended reading included along with all the lyrics, credits and a totally bitchin' photo of RATM at rehearsal. [A list of book titles included: https://goo.gl/RQgLrm])
If you need further proof that the 90s were a strange/exciting/life-changing time for popular music, "Evil Empire" has sold around 4 million copies worldwide, recommended reading liner notes and all. It was definitely a different time but I'm not saying it was better or worse than today, just way different in approach and reach.
My mom and dad helped me go see RATM play (with the Roots and Atari Teenage Riot!) at the Gorge Amphitheater on September 12, 1997 with my friend James. I was 16, he was well-known in parent circles for being just about 18, a clutch great-decision-maker, owner of a reliable vehicle and a licensed driver for more than 5 months. Their decision allowed me an experience I still hold extremely dear to this day.
The build up to the concert itself was rife with conflict between the Grant County, Washington Sheriff's Department and RATM regarding possible riots, anti-authoritarian sentiments and general "you crazy kids" shit. Definitely enough to make my parents say "NO." In the end, it was an amazing show and personal experience with absolutely no problems I could notice, even though James and I forgot our tent and sleeping bags in my parent's driveway when we left Missoula.
The ultimately "meh" outcome of the police/rock band conflict (documented by MTV News https://goo.gl/faZmNN ) just goes to show that great art can inspire people to question the status-quo, look deeper into cultural/political issues of all kinds and, in the case of RATM, ROCK THE FUCK OUT without starting a riot or hurting anyone.
RATM gets a bad rap for inspiring the "rap-metal" craze of the late-90s and early-2000s that ignored just about all of their original message. Maybe so, but you can't account for taste (or intelligence) and I'm certain there were plenty of fellow bookworms in the pit that night. We still vote, read, start bands and think about whether or not public education is all that great. [Ed Note: It's not.]