UPDATES BELOW: With photos from Rage and the Flobots. Oh yeah, and the cops have the place surrounded.
It's just after 11 a.m. and things are just getting underway at the Denver Coliseum. State Radio just took the stage and is in the midst of playing an energetic set in front of a half-filled arena. Folks are steadily filing in, while members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War -- some in all black T-shirts emblazoned with their name and some in full military regalia -- are milling about backstage and gathering in clusters to organize themselves for the planned post-show march. The general vibe thus far is mellow. The overall feeling at this point among folks is mostly shared excitement to see Rage, with an slight, underlying sense of anxiety, wondering what, exactly, is going to happen later on in the day when the post-show march takes place. Between songs, State Radio's frontman, Chad Urmston, briefly engaged the crowd. "I think we all realize that this is the real deal," he said. "Not what's going on down at the Pepsi Center. If we hold Obama to a high standard, we can hopefully turn this country around... It's a dream for us to share the stage with Rage."
12:25 p.m., the Coup: Like trumpets aimed at the walls of Jericho, the Coup is in the midst of a fiery set, performing with a defined and focused intensity and urgency, as if they are single-handedly trying to end the war. "After we leave here, we're going to march to show the Democratic party that they don't have a strict enough line on ending the war," said an impassioned Boots Riley. "What they're talking about doing is going to take years -- and people are dying!" Although the band settled into a more light hearted groove by the third song, the act is serving as an extremely fitting precursor to Flobots and ultimately Rage Against the Machine. The energy in the arena, which is now edging closer and closer to capacity, is steadily building.
At about 12:30 p.m. today, police officers showed up at the UnConventional Action Convergence Center near 44th Avenue and Brighton Street, a space the anarchist group has rented as a staging ground for its Democratic National Convention protest activities that's approximately a hundred yards from the Denver Coliseum, where Rage Against the Machine and other bands are playing this afternoon.
Activists say that three members of the anarchist group were on a dirt lot in back of the facility, painting large banners to be used in a protest march this afternoon being organized by the Iraq Veterans Against the War, when a police vehicle pulled up. Officers pointed to the PVC piping and bricks being used to hold down the banner for painting, then arrested two members of the group and took them away. Police also detained several other individuals as they exited the rear door of the building.
The police then asked to have access to the space but were denied. When Westword and other members of the media arrived at the scene, the police said they were attempting to attain a warrant to search the building.
Police have not yet arrived with a warrant, and all but four of the officers have left the scene. They confiscated the PVC piping,the bricks -- and the banner.
-- Jared Jacang Maher
12:40 p.m., the Flobots: Jamie Laurie and company are on stage right now. The most stirring part of the act's set isn't how well the outfit is performing (they're furiously on point), rather the rapt attention of the audience it has commanded. At a typical Flobots show, there's smiles and a tangible sense of exhuberance, with people mouthing the words, nodding their heads and dancing along. Here this afternoon, countless members of the audience are wearing stoic expressions, completely riveted. Just before launching into "I.R.A.Q.," Laurie, clad in a T-shirt bearing the Iraq Veterans Against the War insignia, he noted how proud he is to be on hand in support of the organization. "Everywhere we go across the country, we run into servicemen who tell us how much they love what we're doing. They tell us they love our music, but even more, they believe in the message. The message is out there: Invading Iraq wasn't our idea. They are listening, and things are changing." At the end of "There's a War Going On for Your Mind," Laurie asserts that "We are the insurgents!" Indeed. Up next: Rage Against the Machine
2:20 p.m., Rage Against the Machine: Finally the moment everyone has been waiting for: Rage is seriously tearing the roof off this motherfucker. The stands are literally shaking beneath my feet. It’s astounding that a band that has been dormant for so long is still as powerful as it was in the beginning. Running through “Guerrilla Radio” and “Bulls On Parade,” with Zach De La Rocha stalking the stage like a rabid pit bull, Rage is proving that it’s still every bit as vital (and angry) today as it was the day it started. Fists are raised and the entire arena is bouncing in unison. Dressed head to toe in white bearing a guitar emblazoned with the American flag, Wayne Kramer just joined Rage on stage. "Four years ago we went to Chicago to protest a war that we were lied into," he says. "Today in Denver we're here to protest a war that we were lied into." And with that, the band and Kramer proceeded to "Kick Out the Jams," motherfucker! Looking around the venue, there's a few empty seats but not many. Just noticed a sign on the railing advising that "rail jumpers will be ejected!"
2:59 p.m.: Within the last 20 minutes, RTA buses filled with officers in full riot gear have arrived outside the Denver Coliseum, with a police helicopter overhead. The cops are lining up along the sidewalk, off of 44th street. The Rage concert hasn't ended, but likely the first site that all these concertgoers will see is a wall of at least five dozen police officers.
Anarchists with Unconventional Action --- whose convergence center is stationed nearby -- are also in front of the coliseum. There are piles of protest signs, with slogans like "Fund Them Home" and "Make Love, Not War," are placed in front of the doors for concert-goers to pick up. This could get ugly. -- Jared Jacang Maher