This pairing wasn’t as odd as it seemed, because the Beastie Boys have created – or at least mobilized – a new kind of fan. The same people who awarded the Rollins Band an epic mosh pit shook their collective booty for the headliner.
Some might call the Rollins Band one-dimensional and humorless, but the group’s set was a cathartic tour de force as bare-chested hardcore icon Henry Rollins wrapped an anguished howl around the jarring metallic charges of his blazing band. Fully pumped, Rollins looked genetically engineered for the job; with every straining sinew he grimaced and screamed: “Where’s the answer? Where’s the release?” It was obvious where the release was.
Rollins clearly fueled the Beasties with high-test vitriol. They shot out songs such as “The Maestro” and “Gratitude” with unexpected vehemence, then seized guitars and drums and exploded into adrenalized, teeth-gnashing hardcore punk or seething, lubricious funk honed by months on the road. In perpetual motion – over, under, sideways, but mostly up and down – the Beasties ruled the stage like no one else in rap.
The kinetic energy started with the opening bars of “Jimmy James,” continued into “Shake Your Rump” and never let up throughout the hour-and-a-half show. The set featured only three songs from their first and best-selling album. Gone are the caged go-go dancers of yore; the Beasties’ show, like their looks, has grown lean and mean. And very close to being politically correct – within the spacey groove of “Something’s Got to Give,” a Beastie actually wished for “peace between the races.”
The Beasties blast rip-roaring music for disaffected youth of all shapes, sizes and colors – who else would dedicate a punk tune to Sly Stone? If anyone’s throwing a party worth fighting for, it’s these guys. By the time they got to the funky organ riff of the encore, “So What’cha Want,” the house was thoroughly burned down.
This story is from the January 21st, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone.