Metal Blade Records On May 17, As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis appeared in…
- Posted on May 19th 2012 8:45AM by Charley Rogulewski
Given the circumstances, the immediate thought was the omnipresent Chicago police department had pulled the plug on the outspoken rocker. But this wasn't Morello's first time at the rodeo, so to speak. The long-time social justice crusader quickly took matters into his own hands.
"Mike check!" Morello screamed, initiating the call-and-response tactic revived by the recent Occupy Wall Street movements. "Mike check," the crowd roared back louder. "The power went out!" Morello shouted. Immediately, the statement was put on human reverb. "Either by design or by accident," Morello yelled. "But that will not stop the show." In fact, nothing could stop this show.
Morello's performance at the astonishingly well-organized protest -- t-shirts, knapsacks, posters and even bagged lunches were handed out to marching NNU members -- was met with adversity. Paranoid that Morello's public balladry might cause overcrowding or ignite riots, Mayor Rahm Emanuel relocated the demonstration to a less prominent spot, revoking a permit held since February. Protesters retaliated by saying the mayor was infringing on their First Amendment rights, and the nurse group threatened to sue the city for the rally reversal.
The backlash proved to be kryptonite for Chicago's officials, already dealing with the bigger headache that is this weekend's NATO summit. (For the first time on U.S. soil since 1999, 65 world leaders will converge upon Chicago's McCormick Center for the two-day roundtable NATO discussion beginning Sunday.) In the end, the nurses' rally proceeded as planned.
"The people united will never see defeat!" shouted an amplified Morello, once his sound came back. Turns out it was just some faulty equipment. Nothing would stop this show.
Morello, with Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath in tow, would play two more songs after the brief yet unexpected power outage: a cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and "World Wide Rebel Songs," inviting protesters up to the stage for the closer.
The acoustic guitar Morello played on openers "One Man Revolution" and "Union Song" was inscribed with the fitting mantra "Whatever It Takes." He switched to electric when McIlrath emerged, saying, "There's no way I'm not going to play some screaming solos in front of the shadow of Picasso." He even played one screaming solo with his teeth.
Screaming guitars aside, the protest was almost too peaceful. Asked afterwards how it went, a police officer admitted: "Oh fine. Normal, like most events here. No problems at all."
The median age of the laid-back crowd looked somewhere in the vicinity of mid-40. Most activists were outfitted in red shirts and Robin Hood hats, a play on the Robin Hood tax, a proposed taxation of banks and financial institutions, they mean to impose. "The nurses want to do the job right, just like we do at our work," PASNAP president Patricia Eakin told Spinner during the rally. "We're trying to make an impact nationally, in fact internationally; you have to look professional, you have to have a message on your shirt."
"I find it interesting that the nurses union is what was found so threatening," Morello told Spinner before his set. "But their message is a threatening one ... it's a message that this grotesque economic inequality has to stop. There are criminals and they walk among us; they need to be held accountable."
He added: "Today really does represent the 99 percent, the people that are left out of that top echelon. What we've had up to this point is the reverse robin hood, the rich stealing from the poor. That's just not right and we're going to be heard ... The money interest that tried to stop us, that tried to reroute us, that tried to shut us up are a very powerful force and the only way to confront them is to stand up against them. That's what the nurses, that's what I did, that's what the people here did today, and the result is that we won. Our victory is that we are all standing here today."
Morello would make this peaceful victory sound more sweet with the final words of his set: "Take it easy, but take it."
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