Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson Rock for Votes for Obama - Rolling Stone
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Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson Rock for Votes in Virginia

Photo Gallery: Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow and Santogold Get Out the Vote in Virginia

An arena show promoting voter turnout has one honking downside: You get to see who, exactly, may be determining the fate of the nation. The bros in baseball hats and flip-flops shouting “Take it off!” at Sheryl Crow, the polar-fleece-clad young professionals going nuts when Jack Johnson covered a Jimmy Buffett tune, the people failing to freak out appropriately despite being seated near the drummer for Lamb of God? Last night’s Get Out and Vote! tour stop in Richmond, VA, was ostensibly a nonpartisan affair for nonprofit Rock the Vote — an accident of scheduling, of course, that it took place in a state that could go blue for the first time since 1964 and featured artists who made nudge, nudge, wink, wink statements like “The word ‘change’ gets thrown around a lot” (Crow), “Thanks for coming out and voting… and thanks for making the right choice” (Adam Yauch), and “I voted for Obama absentee” (Yauch, later, to widespread going-batshit-ness).

But Elisabeth Hasslebeck would have been welcomed more warmly than Crow’s bizarre and very long song “Gasoline,” which imagines a revolution over pain at the pump. “I got tractors to run, you know?” she explained by way of introducing it, drawing a “yeah, right,” from a salty fellow in the back. By contrast, the Beastie Boys’ headlining set was treated almost religiously by the non-sellout, 5,300-strong crowd, despite the way shabby Richmond Coliseum sucked energy skyward and the Beasties’ between-song banter seemed to make sense only to themselves (example: an extended riff where Mike D — whose sweater vest and giant ‘fro are doing nothing to tamp down those Dustin Diamond rumors — screeched “Virginia” in an old-New York-lady voice, only to be answered by Ad-Rock saying “Kimberly!”; another instance where Yauch introduced Mike D. as “Dr. Carl Whataredose”).

Still, the greatest-hits show was notable for the group’s refusal to go through the motions: “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” which they’ve been performing for two decades, was just as raucous as in the Budweiser-carton-on-head days; the ironic early-rapper poses they struck during “Three MC’s and One DJ” were as endearingly awkward as ever. Even better: after an onstage intraband conference, Ad-Rock announced that instead of going off and pretending to come back for two encores, they’d just go ahead and do two more songs and we could all go home. Plus there was no cringe-inducing all-star jam. With age comes wisdom.

Beastie Boys Set List:
“Sure Shot”
“Shake Your Rump”
“Triple Trouble”
“Posse In Effect”
“Body Movin'”
“Root Down”
“Do It”
“Pass the Mic”
“Super Disco Breakin'”
“Ch-Check It Out”
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
“Three MC’s and One DJ”
“Right Right Now Now”
“So What’cha Want”

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