|SF Weekly, August 25, 2007
By Oscar Pascual:
If you don't believe in the ultimate staying power of the Beastie Boys, you are of little faith in anything. "Cool”" never just dies.
Let me elaborate. Considering the past three decades, there really hasn’t been a set of three cooler people on Earth than the B-Boys. Think about it. Their albums embody all that is cool. When Check Your Head came out, everyone had to have flannel and skullcaps. A couple years later, was there anything cooler than "Sabotage?" Don't front like you haven’t dressed up like a mustachio'd undercover cop for Halloween at least a few times since the video came out. Not to mention these dudes were rocking Bathing Ape years before Pharrell. But I digress from my point.
The Beastie Boys are still cool after all these years. As a kid growing up, there was certainly nothing more influential on my impressionable youth than the Beasties, and the same goes for millions, I'd imagine. I honestly do not know what kind of a person I would be today without the coolness of MCA Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond and the King Adrock Adam Horovitz. I found my way through their music, philosophy, social awareness, and all-around flyness. Normally, growing old tends to reverse the cool clock--dudes spitting rhymes with a full head of gray hair should not be cool. But the Beasties remain constant.
My case in point is last night at their self-proclaimed Gala Event at the Warfield, where the Boys and their band exhibited rare form, commanding a rather dapperly dressed audience. The B-Boys immediately got the cool flowing with "Son of Neckbone," a funky little joint from The In Sound From Way Out!, an ancestor to their latest release The Mix-Up. It was a bit off-putting to see the Beasties play the first song with no rhyming, which evidently is scaring a slew of would-be listeners away from the all-instrumental new album. I admit I was a bit apprehensive to hear that the show would be an all-instrumental "Gala Event," but the Beasties soon quelled all doubts when they broke out with "Live at PJ's," giving the crowd Adrock's good ole comical, nasal flow. The Beasties rhymed, all right. They just weren't putting down their instruments for any song.
This meant faithful reproductions of old (grade) school favorites. It marked the first time I've seen three emcees rhyme the rhyme well while simultaneously playing their instruments. The Boys pulled it off effortlessly when performing "Jimmy James" and "Do It." This also meant throwing down hardcore burners like "Time For Living," "Tough Guy," "Heart Attack Man," and even their adolescent punk-era "Egg Raid on Mojo," proving dudes in their 40's rock shit better than the kiddies.
The Beastie Boys exhibited tight musicianship, executing their ill beats flawlessly--Mike D kept time masterfully, Adrock kept the Mayfield-esque wahwah going, and Yauch kept the sound fat with his distorted basslines--all with the help of Money Mark Nishita's sweet keys, hometown favorite Mix Master Mike's deliberate cuts, and Alfredo Ortiz's booming rhythm. They then capped the night off with an encore of what one could argue are the three coolest songs ever--"Sure Shot," "3 MC's and One DJ," and the immortal "Sabotage."
It would have been simply mortifying to see my childhood heroes actually act their age, but once again, cool doesn't die. Just look at The Simpsons, big-budget movie explosions, and the Beastie Boys.
Cool. Fucking cool.