Friday, March 07, 2008
Click on the photo above to view a photoset from the show. All photos by Mic to Mic.
When it was first announced that Beastie Boys would be performing at Terminal 5 in New York City, I checked out reviews of the venue because I wasn't familiar with it. Terminal 5 is a newish concert venue, located in a section of Manhattan filled with car dealerships. It used to be a nightclub. Many reviews about the venue said the same thing: it is horrible place to experience live music. None of the reviews, though, prepared me for how truly horrible it was.
Choosing a spot directly in front of the stage at any show can be a trade-off. You might sacrifice sound for sight. You have to decide in advance what you prefer: being close to the action or hearing the band. (Silly me, I like both.) There shouldn't be a trade-off, but it happens in some venues that aren't designed properly for live music. Such is the case with Terminal 5.
My experience on the front rail at the Beastie Boys show at Terminal 5 was disappointing, only because I know what the Beastie Boys should sound like live (i.e., awesome). It was heartbreaking to stand in front of the stage on Tuesday night, see the Beastie Boys with their mics in hand and smiles on their faces, and not to hear a single song or word from them with any clarity. The sound wasn't just a little bad; it was completely undistinguishable. Their banter was muffled wah-wahs (imagine a trombone muted with a toilet plunger); their rhymes were lost in space. When they picked up their instruments and played, it got even worse. The venue created a strange echo effect that made the band sound as if they were not playing in time. The sound was so bad that sometimes it was difficult to discern what song they were performing.
My friends and I looked at each other in disbelief at how bad the sound was, but then we remembered we know the words and we can hum. We were at the show to see each other as much as we were there to see the band. So we shouted the rhymes aloud and hummed with the instrumentals, making the best of it. The enthusiasm of all the fans singing aloud and the band's energy helped diminish our disappointment with the sound.
I wish I could relay stories about the silly things the Beastie Boys said and did at the show, but I can't do it because I didn't hear what they said. I believe I heard them say the word "Oscilloscope" a few times. Mike talked to the audience quite a bit during the show. I'm sure what he said was silly because he had that goofy, I'm-about-to-crack-up smile on his face as he spoke, but I didn't hear one word of it. Some band silliness took place when a fan passed a drawing of Mike to the band on stage during "Check It Out."
Beastie Boys looked good! They followed the casual Friday dress code even though it was a Tuesday. Mike wore a vintage blue sweater that made him look like a white Sammy Davis Jr. Horovitz went for the sexy businessman look -- a suit without the tie and jacket. Yauch dressed ultra-casual in a red Original Penguin classic polo shirt and slacks. Money Mark dressed similarly to Yauch, in a black Original Penguin polo shirt and slacks. Alfredo Ortiz was perhaps the best dressed, looking like a crazy Blues Brother in his black hat, white dress shirt, thin tie, and sunglasses.
The highlight of the night was the performance of "Rhymin' & Stealin'." It's a song that the Beastie Boys haven't performed for more than a decade until 2007, when they played it at a few select shows on their tour. The audience at Terminal 5 went wild shouting "Ali Baba and the forty thieves!"
Mike forgot his rhymes more than a few times over the course of the show, but it was no big whoop. The big hair and snazzy sweater made fans overlook the flubbed rhymes. Horovitz had some equipment failure that delayed "Remote Control" from starting for 8 minutes, but all he had to do was flash his magic smile at the audience to set things right. Yauch, the constant perfectionist in the band, stopped one song, wheel-up style, to begin it properly when he wasn't happy with the way it sounded. The fresh finger during "Check It Out" was doubly sillified with feet in the air too. (When Yauch puts his foot in the air, you know that they're having a good time.) Weirdest thing of the night was people crowd-surfing to "Triple Trouble." Umm..."Triple Trouble"?!
Contrary to what other reviews of the show say, the venue was not filled with "die-hard Beastie Boys fans." It was filled with people who could afford the pricey ticket. I know when I see my brothers and sisters. Sadly, many of you were not in attendance. The crowd was mellow for a Beastie Boys audience. Crowd-surfing and moshing were minimal and not the angry type.
Was I disappointed with the show? Yes. Terribly disappointed? No. Do I still love the band? Of course. Do I still think they are one of the best live acts you can see anywhere? Absolutely. Do I blame them for the crappy venue (generously donated by The Bowery Presents)? No, of course not. Will I ever see a show at Terminal 5 again? Absolutely no way.*
My friends and I agreed that we cannot be too critical of the show. It was for a very good cause. We all were very happy to see the band again. They were in good spirits and brought the boogie like they always do. It's not their fault the venue sucked balls. Having fun with my friends and seeing the Beastie Boys smile and have fun on stage erased the negative sound issue.
There's no place better than New York City to see the Beastie Boys perform, and there's definitely no band as fun and energetic as the Beastie Boys.
*Unless it's the Beastie Boys 'cause I'm stupid for them