|South China Morning Post, January 24, 1996
By Steve Davy:
Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys
Queen Elizabeth Stadium
THREE for the price of one. That was the deal on Monday night when Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys blasted into town with a five-hour concert. Ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's new combo Foo Fighters started the evening off with a solid dose of grunge flavoured power pop, crunching through tracks off their cracking album, as well as several new songs. Grohl proved that what he may lack in tonsil ability, he more than makes up for in energy and commitment. This man is fit.
After a short interval, Sonic Youth took the stage with numbers from as far back as their Evol album, and takes from the new one Washing Machine. While their experiments with sound reached some powerful high points, the last 15 minutes of the New Yorkers' set degenerated into guitar feedback 'n' noise indulgence. A little disappointing.
All was saved when the Beastie Boys took the stage. Blasting right in with "Sure Shot" from their Ill Communication album, the brattish trio who once fought for their right to party soon had the house in a frenzy. Their curious mix of driving rap, Starsky-and-Hutch 70s grooves and tight bursts of hardcore punk kept punters guessing. And as well as being masters of the mike they also proved themselves to be competent and versatile musicians. Their sheer energy was infectious and they stole the show.
A final word should go to the Beasties' keyboard player, "barking mad" Money Mark, whose acrobatic antics on stage and keyboard-smashing finale provided a bonus to what was easily one of the best rock gigs Hong Kong has ever seen.
South China Morning Post, January 26, 1996:
The three New Yorkers are on the last leg of a rigorous tour of the region, says Grant Jones
AT the tail end of an Asia-wide tour, one doesn't expect to make much sense out of a band whose lyrics, blasting out of two-storey high speakers, aren't readily interpreted either. The Beastie Boys had done the rounds of the Far East, bought the T-shirts, and played the venues. Sitting through yet another interview, they appear a little phased, jaded, perhaps before jetting out to yet another - albeit final - venue of a frantic tour. Yet within a few minutes in a plush hotel in Wan Chai the eclectic nature of this group comes forward.
Their mix of funk, punk, rap and house also reflects in the personalities of Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz. The Fight for the Right to Party rappers of 10 years ago have moved on. Onwards and upwards from the rap-ripoffs to an entity unto themselves. New Yorkers all, Jewish too, their entry into rap seemed strange when compared to the fast-talking, bad-mouthed black rappers of Harlem and Brooklyn. But they are still here, and still drawing crowds, many of whom were still in short trousers when the Beasties had their first hit. The crowd at Queen Elizabeth II Stadium accepted them with a roar and they left soaked to the skin after a mosh-pit maul worthy of the world's finest.
"It's been cool, it's been good, it's a little different. It's not like coming out and playing to the same old kids in America,' says Horovitz.
Diamond, of yellow hair and slick safari suits, agrees. "That's what's weird. It's not that different. Like we expected it to be a lot different, like culturally the response of the audience, we expected it to be very different than to New York."
So then, is the world being filled with an homogenous youth culture?
"I don't think things are becoming too much the same," says Horovitz.
Diamond adds: "What we're doing actually now has a means of being broadcast throughout the world, with videos or whatever. In a very selfish way I think that's positive. That actually enables us and many others to put what they're making out to many people. But yeah, the flip side of it is that wherever you go the first thing that comes across that represents America is McDonalds. It's like McDonalds or Coca-Cola pop up everywhere far ahead of music or for that matter videos or any other forms of foreign culture, the first things are hamburgers and Coke so that's a little scary."
As they do on stage, the three intersperse, with a rapid degree of accuracy. Every comment, every sentence is followed shortly after by another. They are masters of someone else's art. Having cross-pollinated various forms to develop a style that has sold millions of records. They are 20th century iconographers who pick and choose from all art forms to complement lyrics and add to backing tracks. And Asia loved it. "It's been cool, it's been really cool," says Horovitz. "Like songs that you think that we'd get a bigger response got a big response, but there were others, maybe they'd seen on video. We just didn't know how they'd react."
Diamond recalls a previous experience when the band played in Japan for the first time a couple of years ago. "We got to Tokyo, this guy and his friends were all dressed in skater clothes and had wild sneakers and the whole thing and the rest of the kids were calm and sitting down," he says.
Horowitz adds: "Because culturally that was what was correct when you finished a song, it was just clapping, you know. Now you've got your mod kids, your skater kids, your hip-hop or whatever, it's like all these specific ways to be now."
Predicably though, Singapore did react a different way.
"Actually we didn't get to go to Singapore. Our linguistic skills were too varied," says Diamond of their propensity for Category III lyrics. Following the last gig in Tokyo, after several years' absence, the Beasties return to the studio to follow up Ill Communication--a welcome return to picking up instruments. Yauch and Horovitz on guitar and Diamond on drums.
"We started recording in the fall, in New York, so obviously we'll try to get back in the spring and resume the recording process," says Diamond. "We're probably somewhere between two per cent and 200 per cent done, somewhere in between."
They have not yet decided what is and what isn't going to be on the next album, and needless to say it's hard to pin them down.
"We don't really worry about all that stuff, so we're going to have like a couple of house tracks on our next record, and a couple of standard love-rock, a couple ballads," says Horovitz.
Around the same time though, they intend to play a charity concert in San Francisco to raise funds to increase the awareness of China's occupation of Tibet, which lies close to Yauch's heart.
"We just want to help a lot more people in America become aware of the situation. I think the person on the street still really doesn't know the situation in Tibet. I just mainly know about the younger people that listen to our music and stuff and just trying to put it out there and just because it's an issue that's really interesting to us. Having met a lot of Tibetan people and seeing how amazing their culture is and seeing how radically it's being wiped out. We're just trying to put it out there and the best way for us to get information out there by doing a concert and hopefully the Dalai Lama will come to the concert. The whole event will just be exposing Tibetan culture."
Yauch has had a recent audience with the great man himself and the wild guys of the 1980s have definitely seen the light.
"I think that just human beings in general need to reunite with the intention of bringing this planet to a higher level of consciousness."