Rage at the Temple

by Robert Costa

Madison, Wis. — Tom Morello, the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, hosted a “Recall Ball” tonight at the Madison Labor Temple. Hundreds of union heavies and Occupy-types attended the outdoor concert, which featured droning acoustic covers of union tunes and beer — lots of beer.

It was billed as a family event, and many young children dotted the lawn, but the language of Morello and other performers was quite blue. Within the opening half hour, Governor Walker was repeatedly cursed. Later, attendees were urged to vote “early and often” by one punk rocker. The crowd laughed knowingly.

Fists in the air, a sea of blood-red shirts, the stench of sweat and alcohol — you get the idea. The only real difference between this show and any other cacophonous music festival was the security. The local cops, who are allies of Democrat Tom Barrett, were having a grand time, nodding along to Morello’s rants.

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, for his part, was the one standout. He mostly stuck to his music, mixing in some supportive words for union members between songs. He’s a deep-blue Democrat but he’s not obnoxious about it.

After you watch this video, you’ll understand why I (and many others) left early.

In short, Morello didn’t simply emcee and let the musicians play. He constantly interrupted the show to read long “solidarity” letters from Quebec student rebels and Greek protesters. And he did this seriously, as if they were revelations.

Even at the labor temple, this sacred union gathering place, it was too much.

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