Roger Waters Brings Down the Hammer on Trump at Staples Center Show

Lyndsey Parker
Roger Waters onstage at L.A.’s Staples Center. (Photo: Lyndsey Parker)

The last time Roger Waters played Southern California, closing Indio’s Desert Trip festival in October 2016, the presidential election was less than a month away — in fact, the second presidential debate took place the same night at Waters’s one Desert Trip performance. Waters clearly had the Donald on the brain at the time, delivering an incendiary performance that included anti-Trump video displays (with animations of Trump vomiting, wearing a KKK hood, fellating a banana, making a Nazi salute, and exposing his tiny genitals) plus a swine-shaped balloon stenciled with the damning words “Ignorant, Lying, Racist, Sexist, Pig” and a gargoyle-like illustration of the Republican nominee.

This week in Trump’s America, as Waters returned to Southern California for a three-night stint at Los Angeles’s Staples Center on his Us + Them tour, the Pink Floyd legend was angrier than ever, updating his famous inflatable pig with the slogan “Piggy Bank of War” and an image of the president boasting, “I won!” (“‘I won!’ is the new fake news, Waters later quipped.) He additionally revised his spectacular — and unsubtle — graphics to include a toddler-sized Donald Trump cradled in Vladimir Putin’s arms and, most chillingly, a bold-faced selection of the president’s most controversial quotes.

Quotations from Donald Trump on Waters’s video screens at Staples Center. (Photos: Lyndsey Parker)

Waters — whose first studio album in nearly 25 years, the bleak and bitter Is This the Life We Really Want?, was inspired in part by Trump’s presidency — made his first big political statement early in the evening with “Another Brick in the Wall,” during which a troupe of L.A.-area teenagers wildly danced and fist-pumped onstage, eventually ripping off their orange prison jumpsuits to reveal their “Resist!” T-shirts underneath. (That sentiment was repeated during the grand finale, when “Resist!” confetti showered the audience.) Waters also elicited mostly supportive cheers with the Is This the Life We Really Want? track “Picture That” (featuring lines like “Picture a courthouse with no f***ing laws/ Picture a cathouse with no f***ing whores/ Picture a s***house with no f***ing drains/ Picture a leader with no f***ing brains”); a touching performance of the new track “The Last Refugee” (accompanied by a short film of a mother mourning her daughter’s death); and the antiwar anthem “Bring the Boys Back Home,” which showcased the gorgeous vocals of Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of the indie-pop band Lucius. The latter sounded as relevant as ever 38 years after its release, as did much of Waters’s classic ’70s material, set against a backdrop of dystopian imagery of starving rodents, robot roaches … and time-lapse exterior footage of the Trump Tower.

But the biggest impact came during the 1977 11-minute epic “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” which began with a slideshow of the above-mentioned Trump cartoon lampoons and concluded with an eight-screen display of some of Trump’s most shocking verbatim quotes, including “I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks,” “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich,” “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her,” “We need global warming,” and “It really doesn’t matter what the media write about you, as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

More quotes from Trump on Waters’s video screens. (Photos: Lyndsey Parker)

While some more conservative concertgoers were spotted fleeing to the beer and merchandise lines (or maybe towards the exit doors) during this controversial segment, the majority of the 21,000-capacity crowd whooped along with Waters, prompting him to proclaim, “There’s a lot of love in this room, and it moves us deeply.” Waters plays a final show at Staples Center on June 27.

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