Remembering the Wu-Tang Clan & Rage Against The Machine Tour: Summer 1997

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    Remembering the Wu-Tang Clan & Rage Against The Machine Tour: Summer 1997
    Published: June 14, 2024

    Official poster for 8/29/97. Extra Chill will recreate this iconic tour on June 28th, 2024 at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC.

    During the summer of 1997, Wu-Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine embarked on an infamous tour that brought crazy memories to those who were lucky enough to attend. Two of America’s most iconic 90s groups came together to (literally) tear apart venues in cities across the country.

    At the time, Wu-Tang were fresh off the release off Wu-Tang Forever, ODB was still alive, and they were at the peak of their careers. Rage Against The Machine had just taken over America with Evil Empire in 1996. In other words, they were both hot and some of their best music was brand new.

    The tour was planned for August through late September with 26 total dates, but the Wu-Tang Clan dropped out after completing 15 shows — a little more than halfway through the tour. Wu-Tang were replaced by The Roots for the remaining dates.

    Firsthand accounts from these shows are in unanimous agreement that they were insane. Attendees recall a war-like atmosphere and pure chaos, and in some cases, actual riots occurred both inside and outside of the venues.

    Stories From Wu-Tang & Rage Tour

    A 1997 tour doc taken at the start of the tour gives the insider’s perspective. Check that out below, and keep reading to discover firsthand accounts from two shows.

    Rage Against The Machine / Wu-Tang Tour Report (1997)

    8/17/97 – Hartford, CT

    August 17th, 1997 brought the tour to Hartford, Connecticut, which prompted a Redditor to post in 2015 about how it was the “worst concert of his life” due to the Wu-Tang performance, and riots that broke out. However, another commenter states that it was actually one of the greatest shows he had ever seen, and others add similar sentiments.

    What they remember equally is the intense atmosphere. It started off with fans chucking sod from the field at each other and on stage, and ended with fires started in the field, and riots outside the building.

    The original poster recalls it as a terrible experience, but DamnageBeats recalls a different take:

    Now as far as the war like atmosphere, you got it spot on. It was amazing. Until Zack got on the mic and stopped it because people were throwing rocks at the giant monitors. Then the riot police…But, he came back to fuck the police.

    Worst show ever? Na man, this ranks as one of my favorite shows ever, and I’ve been to close to if not more than 100…

    u/DamnageBeats on Wu-Tang / Rage.

    More users chime in on this experience, some who were quite young at the time:

    I was there … I was 13 … and remember convincing my mom to let me go alone with some friends. We had grass tickets and it was insanity! I’ll never forget the giant bonfire … mud slide… and all out war! I went home covered head to toe in mud. Security took a piece of the wall away from me on the way out.

    Haha I think that was the beginning of my love for concerts. So unforgettable!!

    u/SmallHunter1207 recalls the same show.

    According to the Hartford Courant, damage total was estimated to be over $40,000.

    Ticket Stub for the August 15th show, shared by u/RedTessSanchez on Reddit.

    8/21/97 – Boston, MA

    A few days later, the tour ripped through Boston, bringing more pandemonium. Rage frontman Zack De La Rocha had reportedly sprained his ankle in New York City the night before, and the promoter decided to cancel the show last minute.

    However, the show still happened that night at the insistence of Rage Against the Machine.

    According to Redditor u/nakatomi — who was working as a parking lot attendant at the Great Woods P.A.C. for this — by the time they decided to cancel, people had already started to arrive at the venue for a sold out show. It was pouring down rain, and the venue staff were told to turn people away.

    Amidst the disappointment, De La Rocha himself called the local radio station, and came on air to say: “Don’t listen to anybody, we’re PLAYING TONIGHT NO MATTER WHAT!”

    As you can imagine, people flooded back in, causing a confusing environment right from the jump.

    Atari Teenage Riot played an opening set followed by roughly half the Wu-Tang Clan. Some of them heard the show was canceled and thought they had the night off.

    The following is a quote about the Wu-Tang set from a review published in Whatever Magazine:

    Man it was nuts. At any given time there were 9 dudes rappin, who-whoin, yo-yoin, blow-blowin, and smoke- smokin. se there were some snags- ODB wasn’t there cause his limo was busted, or he smoked too much pot, whatever, and I think GZA was missing too. I ‘m sorry I’m not an old Wu-Tang man, I don’t know them all by name or song.

    Whatever Magazine on Wu-Tang Clan’s set.

    Then, it was time for Rage Against The Machine, but they still had not arrived. The parking lot attendee recalls a building rage in the audience, and things were starting to get a little crazy. Here’s a quote from that post:

    Eventually the walkie talkies cackled alive. We heard instructions that all the food vendors should “lock themselves inside their booths” in case of a RIOT (non-Atari, partially Teenage) because the promoters were cancelling the show. Again. They didn’t even serve NAPKINS that night because they were already worried the audience might set them on fire. Who knows what they would be capable of.

    Redditor u/nakatomi gives his view from the staff side of things.

    Eventually, Rage Against the Machine made it to the stage, and the crowd lost their collective minds for the remainder of the night. The Whatever Magazine writer also touches upon this and more:

    Rage doesn’t hit town often, but when they do you’re guaranteed to enjoy it and learn something so you have to go. The people who waited three of four hours in the rain are testiment to the power of their message and music. Personally I get out a fe w months of pent up agression at their concerts, its a buzz that lasts for a few weeks and is totally worth while.

    On seeing Rage Against the Machine live.

    Recordings from the Rage Sets

    Here is a YouTube playlist containing collected live recordings from the tour.

    Rage Against the Machine & Wu-Tang Clan Completed Tour Dates – Summer 1997

    The following tour dates are the ones that were initially scheduled. After September 1st, Wu-Tang Clan were replaced by The Roots.

    08/08/1997  W. Palm Beach, FL – Coral Sky Amphitheater
    08/10/1997  Atlanta, GA – Lake Wood Amphitheater
    08/12/1997  Nashville, TN – Star Wood Amphitheater
    08/13/1997  Charlotte, NC – Blockbuster Pavilion
    08/15/1997  Columbia, SC – Merriweather Post Pavilion
    08/16/1997  Philadelphia, PA – Blockbuster Amphitheater
    08/17/1997  Hartford, CT – Meadows Music Theater
    08/20/1997  E. Rutherford, NJ – Meadowlands
    08/21/1997  Boston, MA – Great Woods P.A.C
    08/23/1997  Detroit, MI – Palace Of Auburn Hills
    08/24/1997  Pittsburgh, PA  Starlake Amphitheater
    08/27/1997  Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
    08/28/1997  Indianapolis, IN – Deer Creek Music Center
    08/29/1997  Chicago, IL – New World  Music Theater
    09/01/1997  Kansas City, KS – Sandstone Amphitheater

    Rage Against the Machine Finishes Tour with The Roots

    09/03/1997  Minneapolis  Target Center
    09/05/1997  Dallas    Starplex Amphitheater
    09/06/1997  Austin   Southpark Meadows
    09/08/1997  Denver   Fiddlers Green
    09/10/1997  Vancouver  P.N.E Coliseum
    09/12/1997  Gorge   Gorge Amphitheater
    09/13/1997  Portland   Memorial Coliseum
    09/15/1997  Mountain View  Shoreline Amphitheater
    09/16/1997  Sacramento  Cal Expo
    09/18/1997  Irvine   Irvine Meadows
    09/19/1997  Irvine   Irvine Meadows

    Update: We shared this post on Reddit, in both the Wu-Tang and Rage Against the Machine subreddits. In both instances, fans chimed in to contribute even more stories to the lore surrounding this tour. Read more on r/wutang or r/RATM.

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