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Beastie Boys Delight Crowd With Party of Mindless Fun


Forget about Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's politically charged speech in behalf of social tolerance during last week's MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.

And set aside for the moment the hip-hop trio's high-profile support of the Tibetan people, which has turned the group into pop's most visible social activists.

Musically, the Beasties' mission remains the same: Keep the beats fresh, the lyrics dumbed-down and don't forget to put a thump in everyone's rump.

The trio--Yauch (a.k.a. MCA), Mike Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horowitz (King Ad-Rock)--stormed the Great Western Forum stage on Friday looking to throw a slamming house party, and the capacity crowd cooperated. The result was a spectacular evening of mindless fun.

For the Beasties, rap has always been a vehicle for social uplift, not social protest; Their 14-year run has been made possible by the band's ability to rise above the genre's more pernicious trends. At the Forum, the trio used its brash yet playful trash-talk to bridge the gap between dense hip-hop constructs and assaultive blasts of punk.

Although the Beasties are one of the few hip-hop acts that can fill the Forum, they didn't violate the club-like intimacy of their stage show by adding big production numbers or pyrotechnics. Instead, they generated excitement by turning into on-the-spot remixers.

Accompanied by their inventive DJ Mixmaster Mike, the trio kept the crowd on its toes by adding new samples and extra lines of rhyme to familiar tunes such as "Hey Ladies" and "Egg Man."

Of course, the Beasties have always mapped out a musical landscape that includes both the dance floor and the mosh pit, and Friday's show was no exception. Occasionally moving from their microphones to guitars and drums, the Beasties pounded out terse, hard-core punk at hyper-speed. The band's guitar-based songwriting has always been a bit monochromatic, however, and the handful of rude punk songs they included in this set only served to alienate the Forum's sizable hip-hop contingent at the expense of a few head bangers.

The Beasties' set also featured some of their languorous lounge-funk, which is equal parts Mongo Santamaria, the Meters and the solo work of keyboardist Money Mark, who opened the show and joined the band during their chill-out interludes. In the context of the Beasties albums, these slinky, down-tempo instrumentals are insinuatingly appealing; onstage, they were deadly momentum killers, and always seemed to come just as the band had a good head of steam going.

For the crowd, however, the genre exercises were beside the point. The fans came to hear hip-hop, and cheered familiar beats the way rock fans might cheer a recognizable guitar riff.

Performing material from all five of their studio albums, the Beasties offered up a diverse survey of hip-hop styles. "Time to Get Ill" and "Slow and Low" were appealingly half-witted chest-thumpers, while "So What'cha Want" stomped majestically and the electro-funk bleeps and squiggles of "Remote Control" and "Intergalactic," from the new "Hello Nasty" album, borrowed a page from that other wry funkateer, Beck.

At a time when rap struggles to find a unifying identity, the Beastie Boys' Forum show sent a powerful message to all wannabe rhyme-slingers: Keep it real, but don't forget to wear a smirk.

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