Radical rap/rock group Rage Against the Machine got an early start on the fireworks it will no doubt bring to Target Center Wednesday by showing up in St. Paul Tuesday at the Ripple Effect concert on the State Capitol lawn.

However, the band arrived close to the 7 p.m. curfew time and without a proper permit, so police would not let it perform -- which predictably resulted in ample rage from the crowd.

As the band members pow-wowed with officials and event organizers backstage, the crowd started singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and chanting, "Free speech," and, "[Expletive] you I won't do what you tell me" (one of the band's famous lyrics).

After it became clear they would not get to perform, the members of the Los Angeles-based group walked into the crowd in front of the stage, yelling rally cries and leading fans through a cappella versions of its songs "Bulls on Parade" and "Testify." Then they led the audience -- which surged to about 2,000 thanks to radio reports of the band's appearance -- toward Xcel Energy Center, leading to more widespread protesting around the downtown area.

The band members reportedly left the march not far from the Capitol.

Ripple Effect organizers questioned the police's tactics.

"A state patrolman held the band and wouldn't let them enter [backstage] until it was too late," said Caitlin Burns, a stage and logistics manager at the event.

Capt. Mary Schrader of the Minnesota State Patrol said the band could not take the stage because it was not included on the permit for the concert. She denied that the power to the event was cut early.

"The concert ended on time," Schrader said. "Actually, it was quite a peaceful day of music otherwise."

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658