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Gig Info:
Performance Date: 10 April 2019

Country: United States
City: Brooklyn, NY
Venue: Kings Theatre

Other Bands/Artists at the Show:

Beastie Boys Story Directed by Spike Jonze
Not Available
The Guardian, 12th April 2019
Rob LeDonne

When Adam Horovitz, otherwise known as Ad-Rock, was at a 1992 gig in San Francisco with his fellow Beastie Boys band members Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Yauch (MCA), he was given a ring by a pushy fan. Indifferent to the gift, he put the ring on a shelf and forgot about it. Some time passed and the group was on a train from Washington DC, and Horovitz was going through his luggage only to find that the ring had mysteriously found its way inside. Horovitz was puzzled. Then in 2007, Horovitz was on tour once again and going through his backpack, only to find that the ring has terrifyingly and mysteriously returned. It wasn’t until the band was about to go on stage during a later gig did Yauch mention to Horovitz, in passing, it was part of a continuing 15-year-long prank he was pulling on his friend.
And so starts Beastie Boys Story, a deep dive two-man exploration of the complete history of the seminal hip-hop trio starring Diamond and Horovitz, with direction by Spike Jonze, where the life of the band is brought to vivid detail both on and off-stage. That includes the ring tale, complete with sets mimicking the moment Horovitz was given the ring and that fateful train ride.
First staged in Philadelphia and finishing its recent run at Brooklyn’s ornate Kings Theatre, the show is based around last year’s Beastie Boys Book and verges on four hours long. As such, it’s designed to be the ultimate telling of how three friends growing up in the dilapidated New York City of the 70s and 80s became iconic parts of the pop culture landscape. Using pictures, clips and audio projected behind Diamond and Horovitz, at its purest form Beastie Boys Story is an innovative extrapolation of the idea of a two-man show, and at its weakest amounts to a rather fun PowerPoint presentation.
For diehard Beastie Boys fans, it’s a delicious feast of tidbits and anecdotes, whether it’s stories followers of the band have heard many times before, or small details that creep back up. For example, the audience is shown a picture of the first place the trio hung out and rehearsed in, which amounted to an old wooden shack above a Cuban restaurant on 100th Street in Manhattan. Clips of their earliest recordings are also presented, with the audience getting a visceral sense of the band’s music evolution.
The show is also a meta breakdown of the theatrical form, kicking off with a bizarre pre-show announcement courtesy of the comedic actor Tim Meadows (he repeatedly warns the audience there will “be no magic”). Even the Playbill specially printed for the night was a spoof, with the biographies for Horovitz, Diamond and Jonze all completely made up. (Diamond is noted to be an actor who trained in Europe and is the recipient of the “1984 Award for Mediocrity known in Poland as the Golden Baranina”.)
Despite the irreverent humor the group is famously known for, paramount to the show is a heartfelt rumination and memorization of Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012. Throughout the duo’s many stories, it becomes clear that Diamond and Horovitz are indebted to their fallen member, with Horovitz starkly noting: “When Adam died, we stopped being a band.” It’s explained that Yauch was a unifying and founding force, even coming up with the group’s peculiar name: it’s an acronym for Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence, which Horovitz pointed out doesn’t only not make sense, but arbitrarily repeats the word “boys”.
Regardless, the Boys had unparalleled success thanks to a string of acclaimed albums and tracks, the foundation of which was their explosive debut released as part of Def Jam Records, Licensed to Ill (featuring party anthems Fight For Your Right and No Sleep Till Brooklyn), followed by the adored 1989 album Paul’s Boutique, released after the trio signed to Capitol Records. In the 20 proceeding years, they became one of Billboard’s top selling rap groups in the history of the charts and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
True to their word, the Beastie Boys stopped releasing new music when Yauch passed away seven years ago, and it’s his legacy as much as the group’s that is at the forefront of the Beastie Boys Story. Once the show ended and the audience walked outside into the late New York night, a vintage car emblazoned with “RIP MCA” was parked directly outside the doors of the theater as tribute to their fallen friend.