November 12, 2004

Beastie Boys brandish bouncing beats and breathless rhymes in concert

"Now here's a little story/I've got to tell/'Bout three bad brothers/You know so well." Yeah, that's right, the Boys, the Boys, the Beastie Beastie Boys. They're the greatest Jewish rap/rock Brooklyn band of our time, with the smartest lyrics to ever hit the radio: "I got franks and pork and beans/Always bust the new routines/I get it, I got it, I know it's good/The rhymes I write—you wish you would."

It isn't surprising that they played to a nearly sold-out show in the United Center (the same arena where the Bulls play) on Thursday, November 4. They've been around since 1981, and it has paid off. They're obviously comfortable being onstage; they strike their classic poses before starting a song, they communicate with the audience, and they're just downright hilarious. Mike D put a sandwich in his hat halfway through the show and then proceeded to eat/throw it at the crowd mid-song while wearing these awesome, Elton John-esque sparkly glasses. MCA gave the mic to some surprised fans and let them sing "Paul Revere" with him (since who doesn't know those lyrics?), and Ad-Rock just did his classic "bad-ass" dance moves. I mean, how cool is that? That's right: extremely cool. The Beasties are simply the epitome of badass; there's no way around it.

After waiting for three hours next to a really fun group of people (who were dressed up as Elvis, a Yeti/Sasquatch and a blueberry—that's right, Beastie Boys fans are crazy-awesome), there was a crazy dog show (like a real dog show with actual dogs) and a lackluster opening by some rapper (honestly, who cares anyway when it's the Beastie Boys coming up?) The lights finally came down and Mix Master Mike came onstage, tearing it up to a frantic crowd.

Half of the people I was talking to had waited to see the Beastie Boys for at least 6 years, myself included. The previous tour was canceled due to injury and all our tickets were refunded (talk about a major let-down). The others had already gone to seven shows in this tour alone (damn crazy Canadians).

Needless to say, I almost asphyxiated by the time MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D got on stage. If I thought the crowd went crazy for Mix Master Mike, it was nowhere near as crazy as when the Boys opened their set with "Super Disco Breakin'." And while I can't speak for the back, the front section was rockin' the hell out. They covered almost all their greatest hits from Licensed to Ill, Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, and Hello Nasty, as well as a few new songs from To the 5 Boroughs.

But their best songs were "Paul Revere," "Brass Monkey," "So What'cha Want," and "Root Down." There was also a full 15-minute jam session, where they brought out their band, sat down, and played their respective instruments (Mike D on drums, Ad-Rock on guitar, and MCA on bass).

Now, if you thought they had forgotten how to play since pretty much all they do nowadays is rap...well, you were flat-out wrong. When they left the stage after an hour and a half of solid performing, many of us were near tears, even though we knew full well that they would come back for an encore. And they didn't disappoint, blasting back onstage with "Intergalactic," and then closing with arguably their greatest hit of all time, "Sabotage." But, as a final testament to how cool they are, before playing, Ad-Rock dedicated the song to Bush: "I'm tellin' y'all it's a sabotage/So listen up ‘cause you can't say nothin'/You'll shut me down with a push of your button?/ But I'm out and I'm gone/I'll tell you now I keep it on and on." Hopefully the Beastie Boys will be going on and on for years to come.