If you happened to be at the Santa Barbara Bowl last Thursday, and you also happened to be curious as to when the show would begin, you might have leaned toward someone wearing a watch in the accompanying row and innocently asked, “Excuse me, but do you know what time it is?”
That person would have promptly replied, “IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!”
Of course, that answer would have been entirely appropriate because the time is always ill o’clock when the Beastie Boys are onstage.
The Beasties brought the slightly older crowd in attendance back to their funky formative years by starting off the set with a couple all-instrumental songs off 1992’s Check Your Head, which the Boys played surprisingly well on their own instruments. Little known fact: These Boys started off as a punk band before becoming not only the most influential, but also the only trio of Jewish rappers to come out of Brooklyn. Go figure.
Overall, emcees Adrock, Mike D and MCA played a balanced and well-paced show, hopping effortlessly between all points old and new from their catalog. Trippy deep cuts “So What’cha Want” and “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” off of Check Your Head and their alternative-rap masterpiece Paul’s Boutique transitioned seamlessly into the squawky horns and electronic drums of more popular hits like “Brass Monkey” on License to Ill.
But, it must be noted that many of the party songs from their “Yo! MTV Raps” days like “Girls” and “Paul Revere” have been to put out pasture along with that eponymous horsie and Bud-swilling bravado. We must remember that these B-Boys are now actually men in their forties; no more “Rhymin’ and Stealin'” for them.
Though the ’80s are over, retro kitsch was alive and well on the Beastie Boys’ stage. From Mike D’s ridiculously red ship captain’s outfit to a gigantic disco ball and Atari
Pitfall on the video screens, the Beastie’s represented their roots in a visual feast akin to a stage version of VH1’s “I Love the ’80s.”
They donned their guitars, and even a stand-up bass, to round out their set with an encore of “Sabotage” and a classic rendition of “Intergalactic” replete with robotic posturing. One of the real treats at the end of their performance came from their not-so-secret weapon, Mix Master Mike. Mike still has some amazing chops on the turntables. Whether scratching it up lightning fast or tapping the record gently for a fine echo effect, his combination of speed and surgical accuracy mesmerized the crowd.
Despite their age, the Beastie Boys proved they can still rock the party ’til the break of dawn… or at least until 10 o’clock when the noise ordinance kicked in.