When fans of the Beastie Boys talk
of the best performance they ever saw or the one concert
set that they wished they could have seen, often the name
Quasar is mentioned. That name will immediately click with
older fans and the conversation will continue on without
a pause. However with each passing year, new people discover
and begin to appreciate the Beastie Boys. For newer fans,
the name Quasar may only be associated with an old Marvel
comic book series and a line of home appliances which share
the name. Therefore it is important to retell and forever
remember the story of the legendary Quasar concert tour.
In December of 1995, Beastie Boys
fans were excited to pick up the band's latest offering.
The all-hardcore Aglio
E Olio EP was embraced by some and overlooked by
others, but irregardless the Beastie Boys were feeling nostalgic
and very proud of their punk roots. At that point it had
become obvious that they really enjoyed playing all of their
hardcore tracks live. In 1992, classics like "Egg Raid
On Mojo" as well as relatively new joints like "Time
for Livin'" had become mainstays in the band's setlists.
The 1994 Lollapalooza tour dates saw additional hardcore
tracks, "Heart Attack Man" & "Tough Guy",
Communication (1994) added to the group's repertoire.
Then with the release of an entirely new collection of New
York Hardcore material it occurred to the band that they
could tour in support of Aglio E Olio and at the
same time play small intimate shows like they had back in
the early 1980s. In an attempt to avoid huge crowds and
make the tour a reality, the Beastie Boys adopted the stage
name Quasar as their pseudonym.
In addition to Adam
Yauch, Michael Diamond,
and Adam Horovitz, Amery
"AWOL" Smith rounded out the Quasar line-up
and appropriately pictured on the back of the Aglio E
Olio EP (1995). One of the very first shows Quasar did
happened on November 22nd, 1995 at New York's
Coney Island High. Luckily for bootleg traders the performance
was recorded on videotape and quickly made its way into
trading circles. People who attended that show as well others
at following gigs often hollered requests for "Sabotage"
and "So What'cha Want", but instead audiences
were treated to a mixture of punk covers and original Beastie
Boys hardcore material dating back to Polly
Wog Stew (1982). The band avoided hip-hop material
entirely to the dismay of some and to the delight of others.
Although they played in their normal street clothes during
that early Coney Island performance, costumes would soon
become a key element to the Quasar persona.
Orange jump suits, similar to what
the Beastie Boys wore on tour in 1998, which said Quasar
on them made their first appearance on April 26th,
1996 at Bottom of the Hill Club in San Francisco, CA. The
orange jumpsuits were replaced with the nautical themed
costumes, when Quasar played onboard a ferry in a Sydney
harbor. That show along with a handful of others took place
in Australia in January of 1997 right before the band left
the southern hemisphere to play clubs in Japan. For Japanese
fans this was the first time the guys had been back playing
smaller venues like the Liquid Room since their 1992 world
tour. The Japanese shows saw the addition of yet another
cover, the Oasis Brit-pop hit "Wonderwall" to
the band's nightly playlist. Unlike other covers which were
pretty true to the originals, Horovitz took a fair amount
of creative liberty as he belted out the "Wonderwall"
vocals for the packed Japanese clubs. A couple of the Japanese
performances were televised and have made their way into
the hands of fanatic collectors. With sweat running off
of their faces, the band went so far as to rock Japan while
sporting costumes similar to what they would later wear
in the "Intergalactic" music video.
From traveling around in a van from show to show in the
United States to playing small venues in the Pacific Rim,
Quasar proved that a world famous act like the Beastie Boys
could still trade in their fame for anonymity. Although
there were times when word had spread either online or by
mouth that Quasar was in fact the Beastie Boys, many people
did not realize who it was on-stage until someone filled
them in. One can image the shock and surprise someone would
have if they had just paid a relatively small amount for
admission to a local punk show, and then discovered the
band listed as Quasar on the handbill was really the Beastie
Boys playing their hearts out.