Richard Lamas: I’ve been actively attending live music events since I was about 10 years old. In my opinion, experiencing music live is therapeutic. There aren’t many similar opportunities in this life that allow for a crowd to connect on such a human level. In my lifetime I’ve been lucky enough to witness true craft unify complete strangers. Artists like Social Distortion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kendrick Lamar & Streetlight Manifesto are definitely honorable mentions for this topic (to name a very few). But to me, there’s one gig that stands taller than the rest. This is the story of when I witnessed Rage Against The Machine.
I woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday July 30, 2011 to an already sweltering Los Angeles summer day. The brazen intensity of the heat mirrored my ambition to put some well earned money in my pocket. At the time I would spend my Saturdays recycling cardboard from an apple packing warehouse in Long Beach. It wasn’t a bad gig for a 16 year old. I vividly remember the crashing of heavy machinery silencing whatever KROQ was playing. My ears tuned in on high alert between the clanking for my shot to win tickets to L.A. Rising. Although I had been attempting to win tickets all week, my luck was MIA. I finished the task at hand, collected $100 and made peace with the idea of another boring Saturday night at home.
Have you ever gotten a phone call from a friend who has NEVER called you before? You know, the kind that makes you wonder if it’s a butt dial or an emergency? Well, I received one that day around 2 p.m. To my surprise, my friend’s uncle was selling an extra ticket to L.A. Rising for $75. The coincidence felt like the universe was throwing me a helping hand. I couldn’t have said yes any quicker. I figured that I’d buy the ticket and would still have enough money to pick up a bacon wrapped hot dog & a bootleg T-shirt from the parking lot after the show. My Saturday night had drastically changed.
The venue was the Los Angeles Coliseum, and upon arriving I was instantly mesmerized. It was my first time within those walls, I knew I was in for an incredible set of bands, and my seat was close enough to the GA section that sneaking in was definitely on my mind. The scenery depicted what I imagine a gladiator fight in ancient Rome must’ve felt like, minus the gore. Just an abundance of excitement, cheap overpriced brew, and adrenaline.
Due to acquiring my ticket late I had missed the first three artists, but arrived just in time to catch electrifying sets by Rise Against & MUSE. These performances definitely had much to do with the impact that night had on myself and everyone in attendance. By this time the energy level in the Coliseum was so strong you could feel it in the pit of your stomach. There was also beginning to be an evident unsaid understanding amongst the audience. I glanced at the patrons around me and knew we were all thinking the same thing. I looked down at my beat up Vans in which I worked all day, and mentally prepared for what was to come. At this moment the lights blackened and an emergency siren pierced through the speakers.
It only took one person to make a run for the GA section to give another hundred people the courage to do so. At that moment I knew it was either now or never, and although it wasn’t my first time sneaking onto the floor of a concert; it was my first doing so alongside so many others. The floor rumbled beneath my feet as I sprinted down the concrete stairs towards the chain link fence that divided the seats and GA. Security tried their best to diffuse the situation, but there was nothing they could do. We outnumbered the staff by at least 50-80 people. I remember hearing the crowd scream & chant “They can’t catch all of us!” And as a 16 year old kid I was totally and completely in love with the experience. Beer cans and trash zoomed by my head as I got closer to the fence. At that moment, Rage Against The Machine took the stage and set off their set with “Testify”. What followed was the most chaotic mosh pit I have ever seen. The crowd exploded with energy and resembled an angry sea. Literal waves of heads jumping up and down and splashing up out on top of others. I clenched my fingers in between the chain link and hopped the fence in seconds. All there was to do now is to dodge the GA security and run into the mosh pit to ensure my space in the crowd. I searched for a weak point in their defense barrier and sprinted for it.
Suddenly I felt my upper body spike down to the ground hitting the floor hard enough to knock some wind from my lungs. Someone behind me had hurled a half full garbage can over the fence, and like a losing game of battleship; I happened to be the lucky hit. I turned over to see a security guard coming my way, and immediately jumped to my feet and ran as fast as I could towards the pit. Breathless, I could feel the guard gaining on me. But my luck had turned and I was fortunate enough to be the faster person that evening. The rest of the night was filled with RATM hits and non-stop moshing. Sometimes around an open fire, which I hadn’t seen since Ozzfest 2006. I was mind blown that these four guys were able to unify a Coliseum filled with people on only music alone. Their set consisted of no pyrotechnics, no projection screens, and no gimmicks. Just four people playing the music they wrote to the best of their ability. For me, this gig was filled with everything I could’ve wanted. It lives in my mind as both my favorite concert & one of the best human experiences I’ve ever had.
Rundown Kreeps Feel Rage: The Rundown Keeps’ video “NOLA” is out now.
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