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Coachella 2011: One Day as a Lion conquers the Mojave

April 17, 2011 | 10:53 am


The first tour back to Coachella since his 2007 reunion with Rage Against the Machine started predictably for Zack de la Rocha, albeit on a slightly smaller stage. The buzz was palpable as fans crammed under the Mojave tent Saturday night. The excitement, however, seemed misplaced among latecomers with only a cursory knowledge of De la Rocha's hip-hop hybrid with drummer Jon Theodore and keyboardist Joey Karam of the Locusts. 

"You think they're gonna do 'Bulls on Parade'?" asked one sweaty Rage fan into his cellphone, his arms filled with glow sticks.  

Granted, the prospect wasn't totally unlikely, especially for a festival packed with solo artists who earned their place as members of yesteryear's popular groups. And considering One Day as a Lion hasn't released an album since the 2008 eponymous debut, the may have had room to toss fans an old Rage tune.

Photos: Faces of Coachella 2011

It was clear that foundational tracks such as "Ocean View" captured the front rows, but back-row fans bailed midway through the set, scattering in all directions onto the glow-stick-dotted polo field.

Fortunately for the band, the first growling synth chords of "Wild International" put an end to the exodus. In a sea of half-naked bodies, feathered headdresses and mist, De la Rocha delivered caustic rhymes over a clear, crisp beat. The spirit of the riot anthem drew in passersby like a poacher's net.

"L.A., when the war break off, where you be?" shouted De la Rocha. "Stand full in face-off with an M1 millimeter." By the time the song's chorus broke out, the tent was filled again.  Turns out all it took was the right kind of roar.


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-- Nathan Jackson

Photo: Singer Zack de la Rocha of One Day as a Lion performs during Day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2011, April 16, 2011, in Indio, Calif. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images