For me the Beastie Boys are a shining light in a haunted house, a cheeseburger in a sea of kimchi, an icy cold Molson Canadian in a cooler full of room-temperature hoppy microbrews*. The Beastie’s are masters of a lot of genres that I really don’t care for much at all – rap, DJ, hardcore – and yet I love ‘em to pieces. I mean, where I won’t give even the top players in these genres the time of day I’ll put on the Beastie Boys over and over again. Either they do it really right or they do it really wrong; but whatever it is they do it’s right up my alley.
And so I was super-excited for the somewhat unique chance to see the band in a cool venue like Metropolis. The Beasties were doing a tour that had them playing both an arena and a theatre/club in each city. The Montreal stop had them booked into the Bell Centre but the night before – on September 19th, 2007 – they played in that wonderful ancient venue on rue Ste. Catherine in front of a capacity crowd of 2,350, yours truly included.
The show was billed as “Dress To Impress”. Now, anyone that has spent any time at all socializing in Montreal knows the city takes itself seriously before being seen in public. It’s not that Montreal is necessarily full of beautiful people, they just work it a little harder before they step out the door. Suffice to say the crowd at Metropolis was looking really good and the anticipation was palpable.
Though I did hit a speed bump early on. Just after entering the balcony I was waiting for my drink order and began feeling very strange. It was my first-ever anxiety attack, an unfortunately mis-named malady, for it had very little to do with feeling anxious – I was in a safe place and in good company raring for a great concert and had no ‘anxiety’ at all, but all the same I felt like I was going to die. I sat myself on the plush steps just outside the balcony door and m’lady talked me down. Soon I was feeling good enough for that drink and from there the night went through the roof.
The band was absolutely on fire. They hit on every genre they had ever broached; it was like a half-dozen mini-concerts in one. They did their DJ and rap stuff, they did a string of hardcore crunch, they danced like fools flailing their arms in the air and grabbing their nether regions, and they played their lounge stuff with a jaw-dropping funk feel and sensibility that made you wonder how they ever had time for anything else. It was a sheer cavalcade of Beastie Boys gold, an awesome show in front of a rapturous and beautiful crowd, and all of it taking place in what has been consistently voted one of the world’s top 100 rock venues.
I almost feel bad for the people that had to see them in the Bell Centre the next night.
*Since writing this story I have come around on the IPA beers in a rather big way. If I were to type this same sentiment today the sentence would unquestionably be reversed.