When fans of the Beastie Boys talk of the best performance they ever saw or the one concert set that they wished they could have seen, often the name Quasar is mentioned. That name will immediately click with older fans and the conversation will continue on without a pause. However with each passing year, new people discover and begin to appreciate the Beastie Boys. For newer fans, the name Quasar may only be associated with an old Marvel comic book series and a line of home appliances which share the name. Therefore it is important to retell and forever remember the story of the legendary Quasar concert tour.
In December of 1995, Beastie Boys fans were excited to pick up the band's latest offering. The all-hardcore Aglio E Olio EP was embraced by some and overlooked by others, but irregardless the Beastie Boys were feeling nostalgic and very proud of their punk roots. At that point it had become obvious that they really enjoyed playing all of their hardcore tracks live. In 1992, classics like "Egg Raid On Mojo" as well as relatively new joints like "Time for Livin'" had become mainstays in the band's setlists. The 1994 Lollapalooza tour dates saw additional hardcore tracks, "Heart Attack Man" & "Tough Guy", from Ill Communication (1994) added to the group's repertoire. Then with the release of an entirely new collection of New York Hardcore material it occurred to the band that they could tour in support of Aglio E Olio and at the same time play small intimate shows like they had back in the early 1980s. In an attempt to avoid huge crowds and make the tour a reality, the Beastie Boys adopted the stage name Quasar as their pseudonym.
In addition to Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond, and Adam Horovitz, Amery "AWOL" Smith rounded out the Quasar line-up and appropriately pictured on the back of the Aglio E Olio EP (1995). One of the very first shows Quasar did happened on November 22nd, 1995 at New York's Coney Island High. Luckily for bootleg traders the performance was recorded on videotape and quickly made its way into trading circles. People who attended that show as well others at following gigs often hollered requests for "Sabotage" and "So What'cha Want", but instead audiences were treated to a mixture of punk covers and original Beastie Boys hardcore material dating back to Polly Wog Stew (1982). The band avoided hip-hop material entirely to the dismay of some and to the delight of others. Although they played in their normal street clothes during that early Coney Island performance, costumes would soon become a key element to the Quasar persona.
Orange jump suits, similar to what the Beastie Boys wore on tour in 1998, which said Quasar on them made their first appearance on April 26th, 1996 at Bottom of the Hill Club in San Francisco, CA. The orange jumpsuits were replaced with the nautical themed costumes, when Quasar played onboard a ferry in a Sydney harbor. That show along with a handful of others took place in Australia in January of 1997 right before the band left the southern hemisphere to play clubs in Japan. For Japanese fans this was the first time the guys had been back playing smaller venues like the Liquid Room since their 1992 world tour. The Japanese shows saw the addition of yet another cover, the Oasis Brit-pop hit "Wonderwall" to the band's nightly playlist. Unlike other covers which were pretty true to the originals, Horovitz took a fair amount of creative liberty as he belted out the "Wonderwall" vocals for the packed Japanese clubs. A couple of the Japanese performances were televised and have made their way into the hands of fanatic collectors. With sweat running off of their faces, the band went so far as to rock Japan while sporting costumes similar to what they would later wear in the "Intergalactic" music video.
From traveling around in a van from show to show in the United States to playing small venues in the Pacific Rim, Quasar proved that a world famous act like the Beastie Boys could still trade in their fame for anonymity. Although there were times when word had spread either online or by mouth that Quasar was in fact the Beastie Boys, many people did not realize who it was on-stage until someone filled them in. One can image the shock and surprise someone would have if they had just paid a relatively small amount for admission to a local punk show, and then discovered the band listed as Quasar on the handbill was really the Beastie Boys playing their hearts out.