Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Very Late Afterthoughts on L.A. Rising

Gotta call myself out here for not bringing up, (blogging about), the LA Rising Festival when I first heard about it. It was a very important music festival and I should have given it more exposure. Maybe it was because I just wasn’t very excited about many of the performers, or maybe I was too focused on the high ticket price. But, the fact of the matter is that, Rage Against the Machine, (with the help of Goldenvoice Productions), actually set out to create a type of counter-culture music festival--the type of which that we have not seen in a very long time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t fully appreciate that until recently when I was reading Bob Avakian’s, “Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon.” In the beginning of Part 2 (Building the Movement for Revolution), the first paragraph ends like this:

“There can be, and must be, struggle—and a real, living alternative brought forward—in the realm of culture and ideology (including morals), even now, before the current system is swept aside—and as a critical part of building a movement for revolution to sweep away the current system.”

A few pages later, speaking more specifically about culture, he says:

“In short, we need, in today's circumstances, a counter-culture that contributes to and is increasingly part of building a movement for revolution—in opposition to a counter-revolutionary culture. We need a culture of radical opposition to the essence of everything that is wrong with this society and system, and the many different manifestations of that; we need an active searching for a radically better world, within which revolution and communism is a powerful and continually growing pole of attraction.”

So, this was the sixth time I’ve seen RATM live, and it wasn’t my favorite performance by them, but that’s not the point. I don’t really like the type of music that Rise Against or Muse play, but—again—that’s not the point. Those two bands have made some very powerful music videos and are coming from a different place, (politically), than most mainstream bands. The audience, also, was encouraged to visit the “Re-Education Camp” where more than 30 nonprofit organizations were invited—at zero cost—to promote their causes and raise awareness.

More evidence of this show’s powerful impact can be found in a show review that the Los Angeles Times did:

“Rage’s PLUR is more like protest, liberate, unify and revolt, and it’s a message that resonated at the Coliseum, no doubt because the band's crowd is right in the thick of things, economically speaking. Primarily comprising twenty- and thirty-something blue-collar Angelenos that as a group have been hit hard by the recession, it’s a tribe that has as its spokesmen a band that formed in Los Angeles in 1991 while the city was simmering. As with two decades prior, it’s a demographic that sees before it an uncertain future and bears with it resentment at the mansions of Beverly Hills and all that they represent.

“So when Rage Against the Machine lead singer-provocateur Zack de la Rocha stood before 60,000 people, raised his fist, barked out wicked smart, superbly flowed calls to action, pointed out the disparity between rich and poor, spit venom at the billionaires and wondered on their power, the sense of no future that has ignited unrest throughout the world in 2011 felt shockingly, palpably present.”

This was a powerful festival. I hope we have many more like it. We’re going to need them if we want to build a whole different kind of revolutionary culture.

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