Election 2016

Inside Prophet's of Rage's Battle at the RNC

THIS HORRIBLE TRUMP THING: INSIDE PROPHETS OF RAGE'S BATTLE AT THE RNC

WE SAW THIS

By Alex Robert Ross | July 21, 2016 | Photo: Pete Voelker 

Outside the Agora Theater, two miles from the political pantomime and cable news sideshow of Cleveland’s East 4th Street, around 200 people are scrummaging towards a dimly-lit lobby, sweating. A thick-necked man in an “ALL TAXES ARE STEALING” T-shirt chuckles as he turns down a copy of the Socialist Worker from the old woman peddling them on the street. A fat man in a too-small tank top with fading, stretched tattoos brushes up against a scrawny adolescent in an Against Me! tee. It’s the same claustrophobic, clammy excitement that you’d expect at any returning legacy act’s club show.

But there’s an edge to it. The members of Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine, and Public Enemy that came together to form Prophets of Rage did so in response to a nasty bastard of an election cycle that is now mercifully approaching its last throes. Tonight’s show is a direct response to the Republican National Convention that has taken over the city like a bacterial disease and, after an opening day that went by without too much incident, things started to mutate, scab, and rot through the city today. The Westboro Baptist Church held their “God Hates Fags” signs up to antagonize Black Lives Matter protesters; anarchists, the kind you see in bad movies about anarchists, ran around in a futile attempt to piss off cops; Bikers for Trump paraded around with firearms strapped to their sides.

And all this has been done in the presence of thousands of very visible police officers from just about every state, a few of whom sit in squad cars at the Agora’s entrance tonight. Fracas, terrorist attack, demonstration, take your pick: this show was always going to be a hotspot.

In fact, that’s the whole point of all this. “Make America Rage Again” is the slogan that Prophets of Rage have been using, a mantra they keep repeating and printing on those bright red baseball caps. It’s an open invitation.

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