Beastie Boys | 08.05 & 08.06 | Boston

Words & Images by: Andrew Bruss

Beastie Boys :: 08.05.07 :: Opera House :: Boston, MA
Beastie Boys :: 08.06.07 :: Bank of America Pavilion :: Boston, MA

Beastie Boys :: 08.06 :: Boston
The summer of 2007 is gradually proving to be an exciting era in the history of the Beastie Boys‘ ground-breaking career. Following the highly anticipated release of their newest, all-instrumental album, The Mix Up, the trio of Brooklyn bred rappers have taken their gear on the road to play a handful of “Gala Events” to complement several traditional dates on their current U.S. tour.

Besides being a track title on The Mix Up, a Gala Event is a unique performance by the group, which places a heavy emphasis on instrumentals, not-so-subtly neglecting the majority of their hits, and strongly inviting attendees to “dress to impress.” Over the course of their current tour, only a handful of major markets have been offered a Gala Event in addition to a standard hip-hop oriented performance. Fortunately, when the Beastie Boys rolled through Beantown they raised the roof for a Gala Event at the Opera House, which they followed the next night with a concert of old school hits at the Bank Of America Pavilion.

08.05.07 :: Opera House :: Boston, MA

Given the upscale dress code, and expected lack of rhyme based tunes, the group’s set at the Opera House was shrouded in speculation, regarding everything from the material that would be performed to the degree that the crowd would actually be decked out in fine duds. As a matter of fact, prior to the performance, Mike D told JamBase, “I could end up being proven wrong, but right now I’m going to go on record and say that I think at the Opera House we might see the greatest number of folks dressed up.” As predicted, upon walking through the venue doors the first thing to catch one’s eye was the overwhelming amount of zoot suits and top hats. Folks were taking the Beasties’ fashionable call to arms to heart, and judging by the group’s previous comments, this was sure to earn well-deserved results.

Mix Master Mike – Beastie Boys :: 08.06 :: Boston
As the house lights fluttered to signify the start of the performance, the Beastie Boys kicked things off with a tune called “Son Of Neckbone” off of their first instrumental album, The In Sound From Way Out! With Mike D on drums, the King Ad-Rock on guitar and MCA getting busy with a series of customized basses, the group quickly showed everyone in attendance what they’re capable of with traditional instruments. To give the sound an extra bite, Alfredo Ortiz backed up Mike D on a full percussion kit, while long time keyboard contributor, Money Mark provided an extra layer of texture to the group’s sound. Of course, no Beastie Boys performance, no matter how outside the box, would be complete without the sampling and scratching of the group’s secret weapon, Mix Master Mike.

After driving full force through a handful of instrumentals, Mike D ditched his drum kit for the mic and proceeded to belt his way through the night’s first vocal tune, “Remote Control,” a thrashed out punk number that sounded like a jam from their college days, when they performed under the name The Young Aborigines.

Beastie Boys :: 08.06 :: Boston
Something that couldn’t have stood out more was the response from the crowd when Mike D grabbed the mic. Given the way that the Gala Events had been promoted, attendees weren’t expecting vocal tracks to be performed. As a result, when the group dished out a few lyrical bombs the crowd couldn’t have been more surprised or excited.

As the set moved forward, the group performed several instrumental cuts familiar from their core hip-hop oriented albums such as “Jimmy James” off Check Your Head and “Root Down” from their 1994 release, Ill Communication. When JamBase caught up with the guys prior to the set, they made note of the fact that after they released the sample heavy Paul’s Boutique they wanted to start recording their own instrumental tracks so they could have more freedom over their beats. The instrumental tunes off those albums helped demonstrate that even though The Mix Up has helped publicize their Dap Kings meets Medeski Martin & Wood sounding instrumentals, that vibe has always been there.

When all was said and done, the boys from Brooklyn closed out the night with a blistering take on “Sabotage.” The tune was an obvious closer given its status as a huge fan favorite. However, the choice said more than meets the eye. The tune is one of the only hits to feature the Beasties Boys both rapping and playing instruments. The Gala Event was orchestrated to be a homecoming for the group’s newest instrumental incarnation, and ending the night with “Sabotage” wrapped things up on a note that gave fans the best of both worlds.

08.06.07 :: Bank of America Pavilion :: Boston, MA

The following night at the Pavilion, the Beastie Boys were slated to perform a hits-oriented set to appease all the folks who were turned off by the notion of an instrumental show, or simply couldn’t get the hard to grab tickets. At the Opera House, Mike D noted that if fans weren’t interested in hearing the Beastie Boys jam out, “They could go to tomorrow night’s show [at the Pavilion], in which case, they could feel alienated, but embrace it.” MCA followed that thought up by saying, “They could embrace the hip-hop show tomorrow, and when we do instrumental stuff, they could get beer.”

Beastie Boys :: 08.06 :: Boston
Low and behold, a Beasties loving critic of The Mix Up was provided a second performance the following night at the Pavilion that left very little room for complaints. The set was packed full of their older hits such as “Sure Shot,” “Shake Your Rump” and “Time To Get Ill,” extending to more modern fan favorites like “Check It Out” from 2004’s To The 5 Boroughs and an encore of “Intergalactic.”

Night Two definitely offered fans a greater selection of the tunes you’d hope to hear at a Beastie Boys concert, but the previous night’s spark was missing. The Beastie Boys are one of the better live acts currently touring, and when you see them perform, you can be sure to expect nothing short of world class onstage professionalism. However, their performance at the Pavilion lacked the magic folks had experienced at the special Opera House show.

The Pavilion offered a plethora of sights and sounds that were lacking from their Opera House, but, in the big picture, the Gala Event was hands down the set to have attended. As long as the Beastie Boys are touring and functioning as a group, fans will have the chance to hear “Time To Get Ill” performed live. However, the Gala Event was clearly designed to give their more dedicated fans a potent dose of where the group’s creative energies are being directed. As a result, this provided everyone in attendance with an up-close and personal view of one of hip-hop’s legends actively transforming themselves before their audience’s eyes.

Odds are, when Bob Dylan went electric at Newport fans of his folk-oriented material still found a chance to catch an all-acoustic performance without the shock and awe of his electric guitar. However, for artists in the process of reinventing themselves, it is these moments of metamorphosis that history looks back on as significant. Whatever else they did at the Pavilion was nothing but a side note to the active changes witnessed at the Opera House, where history was made.

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