With a line down the sidewalk and around the corner Friday evening, East 4th Street in Long Beach looked ready to rock at 6 PM, an hour before the show. Fans of the supergroup Prophets of Rage waited outside of the storefront at Fingerprints Music with eager anticipation, clad in the band’s signature black t-shirt (a collective fist raised in the air silkscreened on the front) and red baseball caps with the slogan “Make America Rage Again.”
Prophets of Rage, an American rap-rock supergroup consisting of members from Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave (bassist and backing vocalist, Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk), Public Enemy (DJ Lord and rapper Chuck D), and rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill, first emerged in 2016 as a revolutionary response to the many social issues and injustices surrounding the recent election, daring to delve deeper into the human experience. Vintage Rage Against the Machine riffs and fretwork combined with lyrical stylings that feel more like a rally cry for the masses are enough to make any listener thrust their fist into the air and rock on.
Around 6:45 PM, the stage inside the eclectic, two-story record store was set — microphones in their respective places, guitars amped, and copies of the set list taped to the ground. The only thing missing was the band itself. The doors opened and the crowd began to pour inside, infiltrating the floor until the only available space remained at the rear of the store. A palpable sense of excitement clung to the air as the clock kept ticking.
At exactly 7 PM, DJ Lord assumed his position at the turntable at the back of the stage. Through the speakers, the introduction to “Prophets of Rage” soared over the audience, the siren filling even the tiniest of crevices left between awestruck fans. The crowd erupted into feverish clapping and loud cheers as the remaining five band members mounted the stage. Without missing a beat, B-Real and Chuck D grabbed ahold of their mics and began spitting the opening lyrics, “Clear the way / clear the way / clear the way for the Prophets of Rage.” Halfway through the number, Tom Morello made it a point to strike a few poses for the photographers up front, as B-Real and Chuck D offered up fist bumps to several enamored fans around the stage.
(Photo credit: Julie La Crout)
As the opener came to an end, Chuck D and B-Real took a moment to candidly address their fans. “What’s up, California?! We’re the Prophets of Rage . . . We’re here to fuck your mind.” And with no other statement needed, the band metaphorically leapt head-first into a classic Rage Against the Machine fan favorite, “Testify.” A driving drum line laid down by Brad Wilk met with a familiar series of Morello power chords as the band began to jump around on stage, feeding off of the energy from the crowd. Heads were banging. Hands were raised in the air, and as Chuck D closed in on each chorus section, all of the voices around the room collectively rose in volume: “It’s right outside our door / now testify.”
Having just released their self-titled album, Prophets of Rage, on September 15th, fans could be heard prior to the show carefully considering what song selections would make it onto the evening’s set list. Needless to say, the crowd of enthusiastic concert goers there to get their “rage on” was not disappointed as the band powered through “Living on the 110,” “Hail to the Chief,” and “Unfuck the World” – songs unafraid to shine a light on the current political climate and grotesque socioeconomic inequalities present in today’s society.
Shortened versions of “Insane in the Brain,” “Bring the Noise,” and “Jump Around,” were included in the 11-song set list which dialed up the volume and energy. Chuck D animatedly shouted to the crowd, “I want to see you jump around,” and a sea of movement could be seen all around the venue from the balcony.
During the static silence between numbers, Chuck D took to the microphone and told the crowd to “put their middle fingers in the air,” as the thunderous intro to “Radical Eyes” bounced off of the walls. Chuck D and B-Real rapped effortlessly through unapologetic verses as Morello hit truly mind-blowing guitar riffs with ease. At one point during the bridge, Morello could be seen playing the strings of his guitar with his face. Known for his innovative and near-impossible sounds conjured on the guitar, Morello’s performance lived up to its reputation.
(Photo credit: Julie La Crout)
As the band closed in on their final three songs, it became overwhelming clear that a good majority of those in attendance were old school Rage Against the Machine fans. The volume in Footprints became deafening — a combination of relentless drumming, Morello’s fretwork hitting stratospheric levels, and fan adoration — as Prophets of Rage soared through classic Rage songs “How I Could Just Kill A Man,” and “Bulls on Parade.”
Like most of their concert set lists, Prophets of Rage appropriately ended their show with “Killing in the Name.” In one voice, the crowd could be heard singing along with the band outside of the store: “Some of those that work forces / are the same that burn crosses.” Heavier metal guitar riffs hovered above the hot air inside as something unexpected happened next – a fight broke out towards the front of the stage. Without any hesitation, the band stopped playing and Chuck D’s voice could be heard through the speaker.
“Alright, guys. Let’s just calm down. This isn’t what we’re here to do.” As the two involved in the altercation moved away from one another, Chuck D added, “Now, let’s try this again.” And as if nothing ever happened, “Killing in the Name” restarted and fans continued to sing along.
Whether you agree with the politically-charged motives and humanitarian efforts of the band or were once a fan of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy or Cypress Hill, there is no question that Prophets of Rage is a force to be reckoned with. They know how to put on a hell of show and the man-power and talent that exists in the group is impressive to say the least. As fans filed out of Fingerprints on Friday evening, fists could still be seen in the air for several blocks, illuminated only by storefront windows and streetlights.
Prophets of Rage
Living on the 110
Hail to the Chief
Insane in the Brain/Bring the Noise/Jump Around
Unfuck the World
How I Could Just Kill a Man
Bulls on Parade
Killing in the Name