Thursday night's show at the Trocadero was no exception. The rafters were packed, gleeful fans on the sweltering dance floor surged toward the stage, and the Beasties rocked the house. Their set was a mix of three-rappers-and-a- DJ and live workouts featuring MCA on bass, Mike D. on drums and Ad-Rock on guitar.
Any questions about these stooges' ability to actually play were easily dispelled. They're not virtuosos, but since their beginnings, the Beasties have championed an unfussy groove. And thrash-rants like "Egg Raid on Mojo" and woozy wah-wah instrumentals from Check Your Head got over with the same verve as booming hip-hop jams.
While opening up new possibilities for live band hip-hop, the Beasties were also breathing life into old-fashioned rhymin' and stealin'. Quaking beats shook the room, and the three B-Boys bounced about the stage, down in the pit below, and up on stacks of speakers above. Never seeming the slightest bit serious, they finished each other's rhymes with an unerring dexterity.
The two opening acts also negotiated the gray area between rock and rap. fIREHOSE grew out of the hardcore movement - bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley were members of the great early '80s band The Minutemen - and their jazzy, bass-heavy assault is obsessed with rhythm. And though Thursday's set was marred by formless songs and missing melodies, it took off when the Beasties appeared for a raucous reading of Public Enemy's "Sophisticated Bitch."
Basehead, a rock-and-rap band from Washington, started things with a brief, energetic set, with Michael Ivey pointing up the evils of racism and the joys of beer. The band was pleasant enough, but nearly all of the subtleties of its trippy Play With Toys (Imago) were lost in the rush to rock out in front of a restless crowd.