“So we went over the tapes from last night and realized there were some problems with our execution. And our defense could’ve been stronger but we’re gonna work on that. It was a tough game but we played hard.”
And so Mike D began the Beastie Boys’ press conference at Sasquatch!, the three Boys crammed with 15 sweaty journalists in a tiny trailer, set up behind a table and bullshitting. Horovitz said in our phone a couple weeks ago interview that the band is feeling themselves; judging from their demeanor (and last night’s “instrumental” set, which I’ll get to in a minute) they’re seriously feeling themselves.
Horovitz: “You know I’m a free agent, so I’m looking into making a trade after this season. The Arcade Fire, I was talking to them last night. I hear Bjork is looking to fill some positions.”
Yauch: “We’re looking into seeing how small we can get. We’re playing a show next week in my grandma’s living room, her and two friends sitting on a couch.”
Diamond: “The energy level will be different for that one. We’ll play our hits. We have a lot of hits.”
Yauch: “‘The Night Chicago Died,” “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Joy to the World.”
Horovitz: Jim Croce—“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”—he died in a plane crash in the ’70s. He was a Scientologist, wasn’t he? L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Croce, Clear Channel—google it. There’s a website.”
Yauch: “Forward-slash Horovitz-awkward-outburst.”
About their upcoming instrumental album The Mix-Up: Horovitz: It’s an interesting time to not say something. We’ve got the same fucked up situation as before, when we were saying something.”
About what to expect from their main stage set: “Bigger artillery. It’s a bigger stage, you gotta bring out bigger weapons. That’s pretty violent, isn’t it? How about this: Imagine a daisy…”
Yauch: “With a razor blade in it.”
The banter continued like this for 20 minutes, the Boys so damn sharp and clever— and yes, feeling themselves—that they almost—almost—shrouded their brilliance in ridiculous banter and wise-ass-itude. But that wise-ass-itude is their brilliance, and it was as evident in their super nonchalant demeanor inside a trailer as it was onstage last night. Their set, billed as instrumental, leading many to believe it would be sans vocals, which it entirely wasn’t, was phenomenal. They played instruments, yes (“Every band plays instruments, right?” said Yauch inside the trailer. “We weren’t sure what to call the set last night. We didn’t want to disappoint people.”) and they started with their instrumental numbers from Check Your Head, but they also played “Blue Nun” and “Jimmy James” and “Sure Shot,” vocal tracks usually played with samples and scratching, all done with renewed energy and musicality, thanks to the instruments. These were total reinterpretations of their best songs, and they sounded great.
Essentially the Beastie Boys are completely reborn. What they did last night guaranteed at least another 20 years of freshness, for themselves and for their fans. They sported a new-ish look, a sort of dapper undercover cop/Blues Brothers/Men in Black thing, and had Money Mark on keys and a percussionist—Mario Caldato, maybe. As a longtime fan, I was totally thrilled to see the new format, hear the new sound, and know that they’ve still got plenty of mileage in them.
OK I’m cutting this short I can hear Bad Brains wafting up from the main stage. Suffice to say Sasquatch! Day Two: Lovin’ it.