Beastie Boys @ Bonnaroo 6.12.09

Download the full Beastie Boys set at Bonnaroo here

By this point, you know what you’re getting with a Beastie Boys show. Mix Master Mike introduction, “Super Disco Breakin” at the start (if you’re lucky), heavy on the hits, section of spacey instrumental jams (short, if you’re lucky), encore with an “Intergalactic” start and a “Sabotage” ending, and then the curtain drops. Yup. At this point you should know what you’ll be getting — because what you’re getting is pretty f’ing great.

After two decades and half a dozen records, the Beastie Boys have more great songs than you can reasonably play at any one show. And just like watching Metallica, Radiohead or any other classic act, the Beastie Boys have a set designed to wow casual fans and completely bowl over the fanatics. I mean, it’s conceivable that someone out there griped that they didn’t play “Fight For Your Right,” but it’s even more likely that there were thousands of people that were super giddy to get to sing along to “Paul Revere” with an army of other fans.

But as I said earlier, every Beastie Boys set has to start with an introduction by the world-famous, award winning Mix Master Mike. Sadly we only got a brief sample of his wax-cutting, but the sadness wasn’t too deep because it meant that the “three old jews” we all loved were ready.

The Beasties started off with “Time For Living,” but quickly dropped their instruments to jump into “Super Disco Breakin,” the perfect Beastie Boys set opener. And while I’m fairly happy with the photos I got, I can’t help but think they would have been better if I hadn’t been grinning like a buffoon and singing along with every word. But happiness is a fair trade for a few missed shots, I’d say. I rapped and snapped my way through “Sure Shot,” before being ushered out of the photo pit during the opening bit to “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn.” I went to photograph David Byrne, missed the debut of the new song with Nas, but would shortly return for the last 1/3 of their set.

More photos and review after the jump…

After waiting in a long and pushy line, I finally got into the stadium-seated guest area. They were great seats and very appreciated, but so far back that the above photo is as zoomed in as I could be. But it was really an ideal place to experience the rest of the set. I waited in line through the instrumental sections of “Ricky’s Theme” and “Something’s Got to Give” before getting treated to “Remote Control” and “So Whatcha Want.” The first of those was a part of batch of songs I didn’t expect to hear, but was thankful to get to and was also the first of a handful of slip-ups during the songs with live instruments. “So Whatcha Want” sounded as great as you heard on Fallon, but with a lot more moving around. Good song to have before the encore break. If you end with “Three MCs and One DJ,” only the hardcore fans will be going wild for an encore.

But the applause didn’t die out after “So Whatcha Want” until Mix Master Mike came out a minute later to spin for a minute and introduce the Beastie Boys’ career defining song “Intergalactic.” It was a song I knew I’d get to hear, but one that still knocked out the part of me that gets cynical about attending concerts. It’s one of the best songs of the ’90s and it sounded as good at Bonnaroo as it ever has.

Next up they knocked out “Three MCs and One DJ,” which sounded better live than it did on record. It’s probably one of the few Beastie Boys songs that doesn’t put MMM to sleep while playing it, mostly because it’s three minutes of him cutting and mixing rather than just adding little scratches every now and then. I would say that the only thing missing from it was that ending line “God damn that DJ made my day!” but Mike D yelled it as soon as the song was over. Certainly true for me as well.

“Heart Attack Man,” the next-to-last song in the set, sounded good but I really wish they hadn’t ruined the flow of the encore by breaking it out. The goofy acoustic intro was pretty good, though. But then everybody picked up their instruments again, Keyboard Money Mark came out and they launched into “Sabotage.” And then… they launched into “Sabotage” again. Live instrument slip-ups bit them in the butt for the second time of the night. The Beasties explained, “As you can see, there is no tape, there is no ipod. This is live music!” The rest of the song sounded as good as any song at Bonnaroo did… until they flubbed up again on the bass slide halfway through the song. Oh well. The rest of the set was aces, guys.

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