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INDIO, California — Militant rap-rock group Rage Against the Machine reunited after a seven-year absence during a California music festival over the weekend, offering a sharpened version of their old message: fight the power.
Rage, which broke up when singer Zack de la Rocha left to begin an uneventful solo career, topped the U.S. pop album charts twice in the 1990s with releases steeped in leftist politics and anti-corporate tirades.
The group’s reunion gig was the most-anticipated performance of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the desert town of Indio, about 120 miles east of Los Angeles. The three-day festival drew 60,000 fans and took place in temperatures reaching 103 degree.
De la Rocha and his colleagues, guitarist Tom Morello, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford, treated the crowd to a healthy dose of anti-war and anti-establishment songs such as “Killing in the Name,” “Freedom” and “Guerrilla Radio.”
The frontman addressed the crowd only once between songs, when he likened the current U.S. administration to Nazi war criminals. “They should be shot as any war criminal should be,” he said.
Rage Against the Machine has not made any long-term plans beyond three appearances at the Rock the Bells hip-hop festival in July and August.
The other headliners were eclectic singer Bjork on Friday and California funk-rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday. Bjork brought along a 10-piece brass band from her native Iceland and performed songs from her upcoming album, “Volta.”
Featuring more than 120 acts on five stages, Coachella drew fans from across the United States and from as far afield as Europe and South America. A traffic jam stretched all the way back to Los Angeles on Friday.
Other reunited acts included Scottish alternative band the Jesus and Mary Chain, which brought out actress Scarlett Johansson to sing backing vocals on one tune; and pop group Crowded House.
Among the more than 120 other acts on the bill were hot English group the Arctic Monkeys; Montreal buzz band the Arcade Fire; country veteran Willie Nelson; versatile rap group The Roots; dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem; French-Spanish singer Manu Chao; French electronica duo Air; and English singers Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.
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