Words? There are none.
But I'll try to find some anyway.
The atmosphere inside - and outside - the Target Center last night was incredible. Riding the light rail downtown, it seemed (except for the huge, permanent grin on my face and random squeals of excitement) like any other night.
Getting off the light rail at the Nicollet Mall station was normal, as was walking down the mall. People sipping beers on bar patios, savoring the year's last moments of patio drinking weather; people in suits, shouting into cell phones; people walking, ear buds securely in place. Walking up Sixth Street after a quick dinner at Chipotle, there were the first clues that it was not business as usual. People with red badges hanging from their necks. "Welcome Wisconsin Delegation!" read a huge banner at the Marriott.
And then, at Sixth Street and First Avenue. The crowd of people waiting to enter the Target Center was no different from any other event evening. The hordes of police officers? A bit out of the ordinary.
Not just cops - these were cops in full-on riot gear. Gas masks. Jumpsuits. Three-foot wooden poles - not your average nightstick.
The opening act was Anti-Flag, a band hailing from Pittsburgh. Though I couldn't understand a lot of what I was hearing, I'm pretty sure I agreed with most of it. The overriding theme was: Fuck the war. Definitely not a statement I disagree with.
Between Anti-Flag and Rage, the arena really started to fill up and people in the lower level began their quest to jump down onto the floor, with varying degrees of success. One guy got caught by security but managed to pull away and got lost in the crowd. One guy got caught by security and taken down to the floor. One guy jumped down, ran past security and then, once safely in the throngs of people on the floor, took his yellow shirt off, revealing a black shirt he had on underneath. Clever. And it wasn't the first costume change we'd see.
Rage Against the Machine finally came out wearing Guantanamo jumpsuits and hoods. A strong statement, and a powerful one. As the crew handed equipment to them (or in the case of drummer Brad Wilk, led him to his drums) they proceeded to play "Bombtrack" while still wearing the hoods.
The show was intense from start to finish, going from one song to the next with little or no talking. Aside from "We're Rage Against the Machine, from Los Angeles" after the opening song - as if they needed an introduction - Zack didn't speak again until just before the final song of the main set, "Wake Up."
Bulls On Parade
People Of The Sun
Know Your Enemy
Bullet In The Head
Born Of A Broken Man
Ashes In The Fall
Calm Like A Bomb
Sleep Now In The Fire
Killing In The Name
Zack encouraged everyone to show more discipline than the cops, who were "just looking for shit." As we filed out of the arena and onto the concourse, people were still screaming. But once outside the Target center, with hundreds of officers ready for riot, it was eerily quiet.
Hands down, without a doubt, the best concert I've ever seen. It was everything I expected it to be, everything I hoped it would be, and much, much more.
Will there be better shows in the future? It's possible. But this one's going to be damn hard to top.