Rocking green-and-gold Adidas tracksuits, busting copious Run-DMC poses and prowling the Red Rocks stage as if a truant officer were after them, the Beastie Boys sent a clear signal that their new tour intends to bring 1986 back to life. As the decade-old set openers “Root Down” and “Sure Shot” made clear, the Beasties are back – way back.
The trio did trot out material from this year’sTo the 5 Boroughs, including “Right Right Now Now,” with Ad-Rock braying that he’s a “funky-ass Jew”; the new single “Triple Trouble”; and a heartfelt but somewhat enervated “An Open Letter to NYC.” A dutiful foray into the jazz-funk of The In Sound From Way Out was notable mostly for a costume change into light-blue tuxes that made the band look like it was playing the 1974 senior prom at Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School. But after that interlude, the Boys came roaring back with Licensed to Ill‘s “Paul Revere,” which Ad-Rock introduced as a “people-friendly interactive song,” one that the crowd ended up rapping more than the Beasties.
A graying MCA maintained his cool throughout, shuffling around the stage, chewing gum, even keeping his free hand in his pocket during “Brass Monkey.” It may have been a Barry Bonds-style stratagem to conserve his energy, because he was in ferocious voice for the one-two punch of “So Whatcha Want” and “Ch-Check It Out” (preceded by Mike D’s encouragement to “go out and vote against George Bush”), which closed the regular set.
After the Boys popped up in the crowd for an encore of “Intergalactic,” the house lights came on, but the party wasn’t over: Picking up their instruments, the three pummeled their way through “Gratitude” and “Sabotage.” After more than twenty years as a punk band, jazz combo and arguably the biggest rap group of all time, the Beasties fused all their identities together and would have blown the roof off had there been one. They can’t, they won’t and they don’t stop.
This story is from the October 14th, 2004 issue of Rolling Stone.