Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What's the time?

Hey Soul Mates, just checking in.
Last night I was at the Universal Amp to see the Beastie Boys. Their new tour is being billed as a "pageant." No beauties, just Beasties. The night began with Talib Kweli (joined on stage by Mos Def). It was very refreshing to hear a sound mix good enough to hear what a rapper is rapping. In the past, I've had trouble making out what the heck the MC is trying to say. No such problem last night. Kweli and Mos (who go by Blackstarr when together) got the crowd on its feet and primed for the B Boys. They finished the set with a track I recognized, "Get By." It's very socially conscious hip hop. Kweli's new CD is called the Beautiful Struggle. Na' mean?

In the intermission we went to the green room/backstage patio. Talked for a while with Palo Alto's lead singer James Grundler who was hanging out with Jon Cryer ("Pretty In Pink," TV's "Two and a Half Men). I saw Palo Alto about 4 times last year on accident opening for Supergrass. James turned out to be a very nice guy. He's excited about his new CD and the band's prospects. Jon is excited 'cause his show is still on the air. My non-TV watching self has actually seen the show and he is very talented. Although he is moving forward he has accepted that he'll be known to most as Duckie from Pretty In Pink. I also ran into MC Broogz, who performed with my old group as a guest m.c. once in a while. He was definitely feeling the open bar. :)

What's the time? Time to get ill!

After nearly 20 years, I finally get to see the Beastie Boys and they lived up to the hype. Mix Master Mike kicked off the show by arriving in a studio tour tram backstage. The concert was being filmed so we could see all of the action as it happened. MMM made his way to the stage and began cutting and it was dope. After a 5 minute intro Triple Trouble hit the stage. The Beastie Boys are looking their ages. They are all in their late 30's, MCA clearly the least mobile of the three. But these aren't old men. Adrock and Mike D bounced around and off each other the whole set. They did the occasional freeze holding a B Boy pose for the multiple cameras.

The stage setting was fairly simple. Several large video screens to show the band and hilarious snippets between songs. The best featured Will Ferrell as W flubbing lines while doing a campaign ad. Others showed random images from old Atari games or D movies. Sadly, Sasquatch, who stars in the latest Beastie Boy video didn't make an appearance. But the Beasties certainly weren't lacking.
Mix Master Mike who was up on a 8 foot high DJ pulpit provided more interludes to keep the fans involved and energized.

As for the show it was hot. They opened with Root Down then went on to perform Super Disco Breakin'; Time To Get Ill; High Plains Drifter; Sure Shot; So Watcha Want; Eggman; Shake Your Rump; Body Movin'; Brass Monkey (which put the crowd into a frenzy); and several cuts from the new CD including the outstanding Letter to NYC, Triple Trouble and Ch-Ch-Ch-Check It Out. In the middle of the show the B Boys donned powder blue tuxes and played a short set of instrumentals from Check Your Head and Ill Communication.

The set ended with the Beasties up in the balcony rocking "Intergalactic." These guys are clearly having fun doing their show. They can get away with a 15 minute instrumental interlude, forgetting the opening of Paul Revere and letting the audience handle the rap. They are hip hop giants and cultural icons borne out by their finale. Several minutes after the lights came up they emerged on stage with their instruments, and dedicating the song to George Bush, ravaged their punk hit Sabotage. I have never seen such manic behavior in a mosh pit. It was incendiary, like a riot fitting to break out. This was one time I was glad not to be near the stage. "Can't stand it/I know you planned it/I'm a set it straight/This Watergate." For a song that was recorded in '94, it's even more relevant now. Some say the Beasties have fallen off, that the new album isn't cutting edge. Well in their time, they have pushed more hip hop boundaries than most and have lived to tell. I'm glad I got to see them in person!

As I mention before, they should be the 2nd rap act inducted into the Rock Hall, after Run DMC. It would be wrong to put them in first, esp. since they owe a lot to Run DMC. But I guarantee you they'll be in.
They got the doo doo rhymes and be dropping science like Gallileo dropped a orange.

Love, Power, Peace


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