:: Beastie Boys and Tenacious D ::
:: Rock The Vote ::
:: Fillmore Auditorium :: Monday, November 3 :: Election Eve ::
By Brian F. Johnson/photos by Timothy Dwenger and Lurch Mudpuddle
Last night, as the clock counted down to the single-digit hours leading up to the election, Rock The Vote returned to Denver for their final vote-inspiring push and in tow — the voter registration organization which has registered more than 2.3 million voters — had with them Tenacious D and the Beastie Boys.
Shortly following the Beastie Boys’ sound check of what sounded like from the outside of the Fillmore a blistering version of “Sabotage,” the five musicians, Beastie Boys Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA, along with Jack Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D, set up shop in the corner of the Fillmore to field questions from a team of Denver reporters.
The Q&A format lead to a stodgy and admittedly uncomfortable beginning to the discussion at hand but Mike D helped to get the conversation started by explaining that the Beastie Boys had felt “consumed” by the upcoming election and the thoughts that the last election was decided by such a narrow margin. “So that’s what prompted us to get involved,” D (Mike Diamond) said, sporting the latest incarnation of his Fletch-sized Jew-fro.
The balded Gass responded that he thought the last election was stolen and was committed to making sure that didn’t happen again. “And if you go to our show, I probably know who you’ll vote for,” he said. That response prompted me, who had earlier had it stressed that Rock the Vote was non-partisan to quip, “Is that automatic? If you go see the Beastie Boys and The D, does that mean you’re automatically voting for Obama? I mean, you’re an older white man, Kage. Shouldn’t you be with the G.O.P.,” I asked.
KG did admit to “liking” Sarah Palin, but added that he would not be “trapped.”
However while the press conference had quite a bit of levity, the musicians were also serious as well. The D’s Jack Black, who was complaining about injuries suffered in a fall at a concert the night before, told reporters “I think it’s just important to us that everyone who has an opinion should vote. It seems like a waste for those who have an opinion who don’t go to the polls,” Black said.
Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) also spoke to the disenfranchised voters who feel that their vote doesn’t count, that the fix might be in, or the simple complaint about standing in long voter lines. “I think it’s critical that people do go stand in line and make an effort to go out and vote. That’s why we’re doing this. To make sure people get up on Tuesday morning, get your ass out of bed and go stand in line to vote. It’s easy to get disenfranchised, but it’s critical to see it through. If you’re lazy for one day you could end up with family members out fighting a war, or an economy that is falling apart,” Horovitz said.A light-hearted question that ended the press conference asked if The D would be using their relationship with the Devil to sway the election in any way. “Its true. We do have a deal with the Devil, but as for whether we’re using that for the election, I’ll tell you tomorrow,” Gass said.Just a few hours later the air of awkwardness that had permeated The Fillmore during the press conference was gone, packed now with the sold out crowd.Tenacious D opened the show with a classic hits set that started with “Kielbasa,” “Fuck Her Gently,” “Wonderboy” and an ironically poignant (yes, I’m not afraid to call The D poignant) “The Government Totally Sucks.”While Tenacious D have long billed themselves as “the Greatest Band in the World,” the set on Election Eve was solid, but not an example of their finest hour. Again Black referred to his fall from the night before, saying that he hopes the clip of him falling can reach 1,000,000 hits on YouTube to “complete the circle of my humiliation.” But in addition to that obstacle, it’s sad to say that The D’s time, like their great hero Ronnie James Dio, has come and gone. It was once hilarious and fun to sing along with every middle-school-humor-filled song, but now, it almost seems trite. It was a sad realization. However, for comedic value alone, Tenacious D will always reign supreme. The connection between Black and Gass is magical and they are one of the funniest duos to ever grace a stage. Who knows, maybe an album of new material, just as good as their first album might help?Beastie boys may be old and gray these days, except for Diamond, of course, but the three New York MC’s don’t seem like it when the lights come up. They rocketed through material from nearly every album touching on “Body Moving,” “Ch-Check It Out,” “Root Down,” “Sure Shot,” and a great, slightly time-altered version of “Shake Your Rump,” among many others.
Despite a couple false starts throughout the set, Mix Master Mike was off the hook with his spinning, but even as strong as he was, the instruments to the side and in front of him kept the crowd wondering if the Beastie Boys were going to throw-down.And throw down they did. For their encore, they brought up Tenacious D to run through their Check Your Head album capper “Time for Livin.’” As Black handled most of the lyrics for the song, all the while running back and forth across the stage, Beastie Boys played strongly on the ferocious punk anthem.But when they finished the show with “Sabotage” the musicianship failed to hold up, and it seemed as if Ad-Rock was legitimately struggling to sing and play at the same time.But, you know, the show could have suck-sucked and it still would have been one of the highlights of the year. It was an historic moment that made the show, not any one act or song. This election has done wonders for music events across the country, but particularly in Denver. And while an anticipation hung in the air, as The Fillmore emptied out, there is at least one of us who is down-right scared shitless — not about the election outcome, but by what the end of the campaign trail will mean for epic shows like this.