Rolling Stone, July 13, 1995:
Madison Square Garden
May 23, 1995
By Daina Darzin
July 13, 1995
Beastie Boys Deliver a Mixed Bag in New York
The hits electrify, the mid-set slumps, then the Boys round it out with a smart, eclectic finish
Old-time fans of the original, fight-for-your-right-to-party Beastie Boys must have been aghast: These formerly irresponsible, badder-than-thou teen idols are donating $1 from every concert ticket to local charities and the Milarepa Fund, a foundation that aids Tibet. But then, no other band has experienced the strange and brilliant career evolution of the Beastie Boys. They've grown musically without growing up attitude-wise. Here they are, rocking arenas on their own terms after enduring a period of critical acclaim and cult favoritism. Reincarnated as wise-ass artist entrepreneurs, the Beasties now present a broad, skewed universe of popular-culture references: from Tom Carvel on the "Cooky Puss" single to Kojak in the brilliant "Sabotage" video. And the Beasties are capitalists, too: They sell truckfuls of X-LARGE clothes, and under the Grand Royal banner, they run a record label and put out a sporadic magazine.
Introduced by Flavor Flav, the Beastie Boys tonight wisely moved the crowd pleasers--big, percolating hip-hop ravers like "Stand Together"--up front while ushers battled the legions of preppy youth gone wild who were charging in the econo-size pit. Three songs later, despite the entrance of special guest Biz Markie, the show started to bog down: Sonically deprived of its multilayered and sampled studio-production niceties, the material took on a numbing, repetitious feel--hyped-up guys yelling over percussion.
Just the right moment for a switch to the hardcore segment of our entertainment program. On "Time for Livin'" and "Tough Guy," the Beasties galloped into the sunset in fine faster-faster-faster style--accompanied by feverish, spiky lights that flashed like giant bug zappers. But the jazzy sections proved that this brash band is genuinely innovative: Like, OK, we're going to play serious, heavy music here, party monsters of the pit, and you will like it. On "In 3's" and "Sabrosa" (which featured Adam Yauch on stand-up bass), the Beastie Boys offered an entirely different concert. This one was completely incongruous but effective, superbly played, risky and somehow reverential. And then the Beasties played the encore: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." Just like the old days.