Listen All Y’all, It’s a Sabotage
New Orleans musicians join together for multi-media tribute show to hip-hop legends, the Beastie Boys
By Jake ClappPosted Jul 18, 2012
When Adam Yauch died in May after a three-year battle with cancer, it left many fans, and musicians alike, in shock. News networks, the blogosphere and virtually every major entertainment publication lamented the MC’s death at the age of 47. Better known under his stage name MCA, Yauch was a founding member of the critically acclaimed Beastie Boys, and their work – with fellow Beasties Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz – has left an ever-present impression on a diverse array of musicians, both local and national.
A group of New Orleans musicians have put that influence to work in over-the-top fashion with Sabotage, a large multi-media tribute show paying homage to the 30-year career of the Beastie Boys. Members of funk and hip-hop groups Jealous Monk, Flow Tribe and M@ Peoples Collective are bringing the show to The Spanish Moon, July 20, featuring full-band versions of close to 20 Beastie Boy songs. The show will also include costumes, video, props and set changes.
“We’re trying to make this as over the top as we can,” said KC O’Rorke, member of the New Orleans funk outfit, Flow Tribe. “It’s going to be something people will remember and talk about. We want to bring the Beastie Boys’ music to a new generation of kids younger than us, but I would also say something about us as musicians, with the endless amount of creativity and flexibility they have in their music, that’s what we’re trying to recreate and promote.”
The idea for a large Beastie Boys tribute show started being tossed around in April as a way to get New Orleans audiences out during the summer, said Jermaine Quiz, member of hip-hop group Jealous Monk. Quiz, O’Rorke, and fellow New Orleans MC Matt Peoples spearheaded the production of Sabotage and brought in additional members of Flow Tribe, Gravity A, Empress Hotel, and Trombone Shorty’s Orleans Ave. to help with a live backing band.
The tribute show hit the ground running in New Orleans on Saturday, July 14, with a sold-out show at One-Eyed Jacks. With a few minor tweaks, Sabotage is ready for a second round at the Spanish Moon.
“It’s a big task to take,” Quiz said. “Everyone in the production is in a different band and trying to make all those schedules line up has been some wrangling.”
He also said that despite the different bands, the production of Sabotage has gone really well, with everyone connecting over the Beastie Boys’ music.
Beastie Boys formed in New York City in 1979, originally as a four-piece hardcore punk band, supporting bands like Bad Brains, the Dead Kennedys, and the Misfits at some of the times’ best punk venues in the city. Over time, though, the group began incorporating more hip-hop into their sets and by 1984 the group had made a complete change to the recognizable rap trio. In the 25 years since 1986, the trio had seven platinum selling albums. Their eighth album was released in 2011, and in April of this year, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yauch died the following month.
“I had a lot of angst as a teenager,” Quiz said. “I’m from New York and when I was in high school it was all about Beastie Boys. It’s more about the attitude than anything.”
Both Quiz and O’Rorke are quick to admit there’s a deep Beastie Boys influence on their music.
“The band had a clear and unique voice and the ability to attract so many different audiences. I don’t think you can find somebody who did it as well as they did,” O’Rorke said. “They were being 100 percent true to who they were. They would rap about going to White Castle and all this other crazy stuff. They were a bunch of goof balls, but musical geniuses as far as I’m concerned. That’s the kind of vibe Flow Tribe goes off of: don’t take yourself seriously, but just make the music serious. The Beastie Boys personified that.”
O’Rorke said the tribute show really tried to capture the fun-loving Beastie Boys nature, and he thinks they got it down with ease.
“People are way more interested in who you are if you present that in an authentic way, but also joke around about White Castle fries only com[ing] in one size,” O’Rorke said.
While many of the songs will stick to the original arrangements put together years ago, some will have a personal touch to them, Quiz said. The transition from a DJ-backed set to a live band also makes performing some of the songs live a little different, O’Rorke added.
“We’re 100 percent true to their flavor and their lyrics and nothing is going to change that,” O’Rorke said. “Naturally when you’re making that transition from a DJ table to a band, it’s difficult, but a little interesting. We think we’ve found a good middle ground.”
Even though the dates were booked before Yauch’s death, his passing gave an added significance to the show.
“MCA was a young dude, and it’s hard to see someone like that go,” Quiz said. “This is one of those things where you want to not only honor his memory but do it justice, and I think people will come away and say ‘They did Beastie justice.’”