Beastie Boys Keep the Adrenaline Up in San Antonio

The hardcore Billy Joel cover was lost on the audience, however

The Beastie Boys perform at Reading Festival in 1998. Credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty

The Beastie Boys
The Alamodome
September 5th, 1998
San Antonio

Twelve years after the Beastie Boys first added guitar crunch to turntable punch, that Happy Meal combo is the flava of a new generation. The 20,000 mostly white and Hispanic teens who crammed into the Alamodome are the kids who put Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D at the top of the same charts as Korn while giving the cold shoulder to Beastie contemporaries U2 and R.E.M.

This time around, turntablist Mix Master Mike is the man behind the Beasties' noise, and the hour-and-forty-five-minute set killed when it focused on the three MCs and one DJ. Interpolating "Brick House" into "Shake Your Rump," and driving Gary Numan's "Cars" right over "Egg Man," Mix Master reinvigorated the old-school sampling that endeared hip-hopheads to the Beasties years before they became Phish for wiggers. When the group broke out "legit" instruments, the energy level went down a notch (with the exception of the can't-miss set closer, "Sabotage"), as did the conceptual smarts – a hardcore cover of Billy Joel's "Big Shot" was funny when these guys were playing to a mosh pit, but it's a pretty thin joke for an arena show.

At thirty-plus songs, though, the Beasties' set could afford a few lulls – and at times MCA looked like he needed them. But if the Dalai Lama's favorite rapper seems unsure of how to reconcile egolessness with his group's proud tradition of recklessness, his teammates have no such problem. Careening around the rotating stage like they were executing a free-form zone defense, Mike D and Ad-Rock hinted at another reason why the Beasties turn on kids half their age: They seem to be enjoying the party as much as their audience is. When was the last time Michael Stipe or Bono felt that way?

This story is from the October 15th, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone.