On July 7th, 2019, 1,000 musicians from all over the world gathered at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt to play Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” The event was put on by Rockin’ 1000, who previously gathered together a group of 1,000 musicians to play the Foo Fighters’ song, “Learn to Fly,” in an attempt to persuade the band to come to Romagna, Italy, for a concert.
For the Rage Against the Machine concert, one conductor lead a group of guitarists, bassists, keytarists, drummers, and horn players—yes horns, though the original didn’t feature a brass section. The song was performed before a stadium full of rock fans.
Nearly 30 years ago, Rage Against the Machine came on the scene with a new sound that was a mix of genres, creating a type of political rock that appealed to Gen Xers. The mix of rap and metal had fans rebelling against the norms, and though we haven’t seen a new album from the band since 2000, Rage Against the Machine continues to have a strong following—as evidenced by the stadium full of spectators and the 1,000 strong band.
Zach de la Rocha’s anthems continue to strike a chord with audiences around the world.
“Killing in the Name” comes from Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled album, which was released in 1992. The song was meant as a protest, and called out institutional racism and police brutality as its targets. Laced with profanity, “Killing in the Name” is well recognized for its guitar riffs.
The uncensored version has been described as “a howling, expletive-driven tirade against the ills of American society.” In one of the more intense sections of the song, Rocha is heard chanting, “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” at least 12 times.
The gathered crowd and band repeated the sentiment at the event, echoing a frustration that has been growing since Rage Against the Machine first unleashed their anthem.