Rage Against the Machine reunites

By Gelu Sulugiuc Mon Apr 30, 1:45 PM ET

INDIO, California (Reuters) - 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 degrees Fahrenheit (39 Celsius).

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 front man 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.

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.


The other headliners were Icelandic singer Bjork on Friday and California funk-rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday. Bjork brought along a 10-piece brass band from Iceland and performed songs from her upcoming album, "Volta." The Chili Peppers offered a high-energy set, starting with songs from their Grammy-winning double album, "Stadium Arcadium," and ending with hits from "Californication" and "Blood Sugar Sex Magik."

Scottish alternative band Jesus and Mary Chain also reunited, after eight years, and got some help from actress

Scarlett Johansson, who joined them for backup vocals for the hit "Just Like Honey." Antipodean rockers Crowded House played together again after 11 years on Sunday.

On Friday, the Arctic Monkeys played their indie hit "I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor," but failed to impress former Faith No More singer

Mike Patton, now performing with his trip-hop-influenced project Peeping Tom. Wearing a doo-rag and a faux bullet-proof vest, he led the crowd on an adjacent stage into mocking laughter directed at the English band.

On Saturday, Montreal's The Arcade Fire played songs off their new record "Neon Bible" as footage of TV evangelists flashed on huge screens behind them. Blur singer

Damon Albarn, who was also behind cartoon band Gorillaz, performed a mellow blend of cabaret rock with an all-star cast featuring Clash bassist Paul Simonon among others. Officially, his new band has no name, and he offered a simple introduction: "Good evening. We're going to play you our album, 'The Good, the Bad and the Queen," he said.

Veteran country singer

Willie Nelson performed on Sunday, strumming a beat-up acoustic guitar with a gaping tear in its body. Nelson will play again here next weekend at the first Stagecoach country festival.

Other acts appearing over the weekend included versatile rap group The Roots, dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem, English alternative rockers Happy Mondays, Scottish indie band Travis, French-Spanish singer Manu Chao, French electronica duo Air and English singers Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.



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