|Providence Journal, April 6, 1987
By Mike Boehm:
The Beastie Boys, Murphy's Law, Civic Center, Saturday night
PROVIDENCE -- Three-quarters of the way through the Beastie Boys' purported show at the Civic Center, King Ad-Rock, youngest of the obnoxious trio, looked out over the crowd during a pause that had grown as long and pregnant as a giraffe nearing term, and posed a well-put question.
"Do you guys want to just go home?"
Right on that count, fella. The Beastie Boys' slothful, poorly-conceived act should have left their audience wondering whether to fight for their right to a refund. Based on the nonstop storm, swagger and tumble of Licensed To Ill, their hit debut album of rap music, a Beastie Boys ticket promised entree to an evening of rowdy, Animal House-type fun. Instead, Ad-Rock and his friends Mike D and MCA spent a desultory hour hanging out at the playground.
At least a quarter of the Beasties' time on stage was spent guzzling (and spilling and spraying) beer and acting naughty and profane. Naughty and profane can be fun if there's some wit embedded in the slime. But the Beasties had no plan, no routine and no talent for improvising real comedy. Certainly they had no notion of how to pace and structure a concert: They were so intent on messing around between numbers that they failed to string two raps together until the very end of their set. Apparently, the Beastie Boys think their success is due to sheer force of wise-guy personality. In fact, they're riding high because their album snaps with playfulness and an imaginative sonic blend of rap with heavy metal and other musical styles. Most of that got lost in translation to the beer-slickened stage.
When they got around to rapping, the Beasties belted out their rhymes forcefully and with well-coordinated teamwork. But most of the songs were truncated, stopping before they could hit a groove, much less reach a climax. The audience knew the raps well enough to shout back lines and fill in blanks, but instead of using that ready-made crowd support to stoke a hot evening, the Beasties squandered their advantage with sheer laziness. Even the scantily-clad go-go girl in a raised birdcage failed to work up much of a sweat. The applause at the end was the most tepid I've ever heard for a show at the Civic Center. The audience faction chanting disgruntled obscenities was only slightly overmatched by the loyalists who yelled for an encore.
Murphy's Law, hardcore rockers from New York, generated some satisfying sweat and heat in their opening set, including a convincingly irate version of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone." But they lose points for childish hypocrisy. After dousing the front rows with beer, Murphy's Law members got all huffy when someone in the crowd retaliated with a well-aimed cup of liquid. As their own singer said in advising the audience that the band's set would be foul and crude: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."