Rage To Sheriff: 'Fuck Tha Police!'

Radical rock band played controversial N.W.A. song at Gorge gig.

On Friday, Rage Against the Machine changed their official reaction to a

Washington state sheriff's attempt to ban one of their concerts from a

stony "No comment" to a virulent "Fuck Tha Police!" The Seattle

Times reports that the band covered that 1988 revolutionary salvo from

rappers N.W.A. to open their Sept. 12 show at the Gorge Amphitheater, which

Grant County Sheriff William Wiester had attempted to block by court

injunction, citing safety concerns and Rage's "violent and anti-law

enforcement philosophies."

When a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to cancel the show,

Wiester pledged to lock up as many people as would fit in the Grant County

Jail during the performance by Rage and openers the Roots and Atari Teenage

Riot. On Friday, he made good on that promise, stepping up police security

at the show from 12 to 50 officers, and arresting 80 people by the wee

hours of Saturday, mostly for underage drinking and drug possession. No

one was charged with disorderly conduct.

"So Sheriff, you think you can intimidate us?" the Times said Rage

singer Zack de la Rocha asked during the band's encore. "There are so few

of you and there are so many of us. There ain't nothing more frightening

than a pig with political aspirations. We take it as an insult that he

calls us violent because everybody knows the police are out of control.

"We'll keep our cool," he added, "if they keep their cool."

Friday's concert was the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between Grant

County officials and Universal Concerts, which owns the Gorge, located 130

miles east of Seattle. Last month, during a weekend of concerts by

BLACKstreet with Salt-N-Pepa and Phish, authorities arrested more than

1,000 people on charges ranging from trespassing to sale and possession of

narcotics.

For Rage Against the Machine, the successful concert may be the turning

point that will allow the band to ride out its final week of touring sans

difficulties. In the weeks before the trouble began over the Gorge

appearance, tour partners the Wu-Tang Clan missed several dates before

dropping out of the venture altogether. Members of that band are now under

investigation for allegedly beating a record label representative backstage

on their last night with the tour. [Mon., Sept. 15, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]