“Did we mention this is our first show ever, in the history of the band, in Brooklyn, New York?” Mike D asked the crowd last night. Can you believe the Beastie Boys never played here before? After all these years of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” it was like finally seeing Lou Reed in Manhattan, Skynyrd in Alabama or Slayer in Hell. McCarren Pool in funky Greenpoint has hosted some of the summer’s best shows in recent weeks, from Sonic Youth to Erasure, but the Beasties were disgustingly great. They looked great in their natty suits — Mike D’s wig was like a Jewish-Afro version of Ricky Sylvers. They began with “Hello Brooklyn,” from Paul’s Boutique, and ended with “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” two of their best and two of the finest non-Biggie songs ever written about the borough. In between, the thousands of checked Medina heads who opted to spend their hot August night here instead of with Daft Punk (in Coney Island) or the Hold Steady (in Prospect Park) were richly rewarded, swiftly devolving into a concrete bowl full of party people screaming, “I play my stereo loud! I disturb my neighbor! I want to enjoy! The FRUITS of my LABOR!”
“Hello Brooklyn” was such a killer intro, they could have just played instrumentals from their new album the rest of the night and people would have been half happy. But they pummeled us into submission with non-obvious fan faves like “Posse In Effect” (MCA rapping about Abe Vigoda, who he resembles more every year), “Root Down” and “Time For Livin.'” Adrock handed “Paul Revere” to the crowd, and let us carry every word of the story. They picked up their instruments for stoner-fuzak jams that really did sound excellent on a summer night (with a lot of help from keyboardist Money Mark and drummer Alfredo Ortiz), plus vintage hardcore thrashers like “Heart Attack Man” and “Egg Raid On Mojo.” It was weird to hear Adrock rap, “On the L we’re doing swell,” the day after the L-train got shut down by a freaking tornado in Brooklyn. The security dudes were bizarrely confiscating umbrellas at the gate, “at the request of the artist,” but they made up for it but not busting the fans who were lighting up as the lights went down. As for the beer line, life was too short. Hope you got your drank on before you got there.
There were definitely poignant moments of time travel, like when Mike D changed “You say I’m twentysomething and I should be slacking” to “thirtysomething” (keep going, D) or when MCA said “Disrespecting women has got to be through,” which sounded really different in 1994, before we knew how much worse it was going to get. But the Boys got one of the rowdiest cheers of the night when they brought out old friend Run, and they shut it down with the headbanger trilogy “Intergalactic,” “Sabotage” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” As the crowd staggered out, the old guy in front of me was cracking up: “Listen to all these people who just fucking moved to Brooklyn. It’s like, no sleep till Ohio! No sleep till Nebraska!” Virginia, dude! The streetlight on the corner of Driggs and Leonard has been sputtering and dying for days now, but from the pool it looked like a strobe — a perfectly funky neighborhood touch for the Beasties.