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Monday, September 20, 2004
Wooo-eeeeee! (The Beasite Boys at the Key Arena - 9/19/04)
When they played Lollapalooza in 1994 everyone went but me. When they hit the Rose Garden in 1998 everyone went but me. Finally, in the year 2004 it happened: I finally attended a Beasite Boys concert.
I am now a man.
So was the Sunday's show at Seattle's Key Arena worth a 6-hour roundtrip, car ride a $150 speeding ticket (more on this later) and a subsequent night of no sleep?
I arrived at the arena in time for the opening act, a Las Vegas dog show. To the tune of "Eye of the Tiger," the host dressed in a glittery tux bounced on stage with a dozen canines in tow. The dogs walked backwards across tight ropes, jumped in and out of hollow trash cans and repeatedly jump-kicked him. The action was fast and frantic. A sheep dog tackled the high-wire as a tiny cohort jumped off a ten foot ladder into the host's arms. It was fifteen minutes of mutts frantically running around in all directions to the tune of "There's No Business Like Show Business." For obvious reasons, this probably the best opening act I've ever seen. Bravo.
Later, the lights went down and the video screens lit up with the image of Mix Master Mike standing at a souvenier stand. A cameraman followed him as he wandered the Key Arena collecting the Beasites and slowly making his way to the stage.
Say what you will about the band. Their early records were rooted in jr high-level hedonism, their lyrics are goofy, they're white and yet they dare to rhyme, they're the Weird Al Yankovics of rap, etc. Regardless of their transgressions, name another act that has transcended the genre with live instrumentation, helped usher in both sampling and rap metal while finding time to draw attention to the Tibetan freedom fight and bounce toilets off the heads of giant robots in a video.
Dressed in a Emerald green in honor of the local NBA franchise, the Beasite kicked off with "Triple Trouble" and spent the next two hours running through their back catalog while whipping everyone in general admission into a frenzy. For "Ill Communication" they divided the crowd into three for a call-and-response contest. Mixed in amongst "Root Down," "Sure Shot," and "Eggman" were video clips of kung-fu fighting kitties, female boxers in training, Sean Kemp power dunks and footage lifted from Atari 1200 games. During transitions, the screens lit up with Will Ferrell dressed as George Bush and cursing madly during a mock commercial shoot outside a Texas ranch. "2 million jobs lost? Hell, those people get to stay home and watch quality TV programs like The Jeffersons."
This wasn't the only bit of political commentary they dished out. After a 45-minute set, the Beasties ran off stage and returned in tuxedos atop a mobile prom stage outfitted with party lights, announcing that this wasn't a concert, it was a "pageant." After rolling through a few instrumentals and a quick "we aren't going to let Bush win, are we," "Something's Got to Give" adopted a 2004 elections twist as a video screen behind the stage lit up with blue lines.
Later, the Besties returned in red t-shirts for a final run, blazing through the likes of "Jimmy James" and a "Paul Revere" sing-along. The floor nearly dissolved into chaos as the three rushed off stage and suddenly appeared on the opposite end of the arena on a tiny stage. Fans in the 100 and 200 levels bum rushed the lower level as they cut into "Intergalactic." Afterwards, it took a full five minutes for them to get back to the main stage for the encore. The final song of the night, "Sabotage" dedicated to GW, caused a large group of shirtless fratboys to start slam-dancing.
The show wasn't without the occasional snag. Mike D forgot the lyrics to "High Plains Drifter" and a quip about a certain Seattle tourist attraction earned them an auditorium of boos. "We've got to catch the last monorail out of here." Dark humor? Or maybe they didn't hear the news.
The energy level of the show, despite the venue, was more like a club. Maybe I've been spending too of much time at emo shows but the crowd went bonkers for two hours, on their feet, dancing and shouting out lyrics in the tiny space allotted to them. I was hiding in the 100-level and couldn't get a full perspective on what was happening down below but the Beasite at one point stopped to encourage everyone to calm down.
A Dionysian frenzy? Sure, but a PG-rated one.
And now, a few other bits:
- The Key Arena isn't the best venue. It's roughly half the size of Portland's Rose Garden and its tiny corridors become clogged and unbearable near the beer gardens. The epic-sized fountain out front that plays Latin salsa is pretty nifty though.
- Two bleach-blonde women were sitting in front of me. During the course of the show, three large, muscle-bound bald guys taped them on the shoulder. At one point, I swear, I heard them say "see you at work."
- Also nearby: a guy dressed in mesh hat and a hunters vest, mid 30s. With him, a lady around the same age, dressed in flannel with her hair tied back with a bandana. They danced nonstop in a weird combination of Texas two-step and "throw your hands in the air." It was a sight to behold.
- Next to me: two males, three females, one pregnant. A single song into the Beasite's set, two of them suddenly stood up and abruptly explained, "We're female. We have to pee CONSTANTLY." They quickly left and didn't return. One of the men, dressed like Fred Durst, spent the majority of the show staring forlornly at their empty seats. Next to him? The pregnant girl who spent the whole time chugging water.
With any luck, the Beasite Boys will return to the Northwest at some point to do it all over again. Hopefully, there won't another six years between tour dates.