Beastie Boys Deliver a Mixed Bag in New York

The hits electrify, the mid-set slumps, then the Boys round it out with a smart, eclectic finish

Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond of The Beastie Boys pose for a portrait on May 27th, 1994 in New York City.
Catherine McGann/Getty
July 13, 1995

Beastie Boys
New York
Madison Square Garden
May 23, 1995

Old-time fans of the original, fight-for-your-right-to-party Beastie Boys must have been aghast: These formerly irresponsible, badder-than-thou teen idols are donating $1 from every concert ticket to local charities and the Milarepa Fund, a foundation that aids Tibet.

But then, no other band has experienced the strange and brilliant career evolution of the Beastie Boys. They've grown musically without growing up attitudewise. Here they are, rocking arenas on their own terms after enduring a period of critical acclaim and cult favoritism. Reincarnated as wise-ass artist entrepreneurs, the Beasties now present a broad, skewed universe of popular-culture references: from Tom Carvel on the "Cooky Puss" single to Kojak in the brilliant "Sabotage" video. And the Beasties are capitalists, too: They sell truckfuls of X-LARGE clothes, and under the Grand Royal banner, they run a record label and put out a sporadic magazine.

Introduced by Flavor Flav, the Beastie Boys tonight wisely moved the crowd pleasers – big, percolating hip-hop ravers like "Stand Together" – up front while ushers battled the legions of preppy youth gone wild who were charging in the econo-size pit.

Three songs later, despite the entrance of special guest Biz Markie, the show started to bog down: Sonically deprived of its multilayered and sampled studio-production niceties, the material took on a numbing, repetitious feel – hyped-up guys yelling over percussion.

Just the right moment for a switch to the hardcore segment of our entertainment program. On "Time for Livin' " and "Tough Guy," the Beasties galloped into the sunset in fine faster-faster-faster style – accompanied by feverish, spiky lights that flashed like giant bug zappers. But the jazzy sections proved that this brash band is genuinely innovative: Like, OK, we're going to play serious, heavy music here, party monsters of the pit, and you will like it. On "In 3's" and "Sabrosa" (which featured Adam Yauch on stand-up bass), the Beastie Boys offered an entirely different concert. This one was completely incongruous but effective, superbly played, risky and somehow reverential. And then the Beasties played the encore: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." Just like the old days.

This story is from the July 13th, 1995 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »