My first Gala Event

On my return flight from Seattle last night, I planned to write my reviews for the shows, but decided straight-up reviews are boring to write and read. I chose instead to write narratives of my experiences at the Beastie Boys shows in Washington. The first is my account of the Beastie Boys show at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle, Washington.

On Friday morning, the day of the show, I decided to run over to the Crocodile Cafe to see if anything was going on. I was mainly interested to know if there was a Seattle fan more hardcore than I am about queueing for the best spot for the show. (There wasn't.) When I got a block away from the venue, I spotted a familiar 'fro on a person standing in front of the venue. It was Alfredo Ortiz. Fredo greeted me warmly with a hug and introduced me to his girlfriend.

Inside the venue, the techs were setting up the equipment on the stage and the audio team were working on and adjusting the sound equipment. I gabbed with some of the crew and Fredo, made some inquiries about some things I wanted to know, snapped some pics for the blog, and then returned to my hotel for a break and to change into my Gala Event outfit.

A few hours later, I returned to the venue to begin the queue for the show. (Someone has to begin it.) My posse phoned me to let me know they were on their way to the city and would join me as soon as possible. For the next few hours, I visited with fans who stopped by the venue hoping to score a ticket to the show, street people asking for money and cigarettes, and locals who were curious about what was going on at the venue.

"Beastie Boys? Really?" I heard repeatedly when I explained why I was standing on the sidewalk in the bright sun.

Some more time went by. I twiddled my fingers.

And then it all happened in a single minute.

Someone yelled my name. It was my posse -- Jenny, Paul, and Rusty -- in the gigantic SUV that we rented to haul us and our camping equipment to the Sasquatch Festival. They were so happy to have reached their destination and to see me that none of them realized that the Beastie Boys were in a van driving directly behind them. Rusty and Paul jumped out to join me, while Jenny drove off to park the vehicle at my hotel and get gussied up for the Gala Event.

"Uh, guys, that was the band behind you," I told Paul and Rusty.

"What?" they both replied, turning around to look from where they had come. It was too late. The band had already gone into the back entrance of the venue. It didn't matter that we missed them because we were too happy to see one another again. We hadn't seen each other since last October when we all were in New York to see the Beastie Boys perform at the Hiro Ballroom.

The addition of Paul and Rusty to the queue somehow made it official. Within five minutes of their arrival, other fans joined the queue. We were joking around and having fun at the front of the queue when Money Mark stepped out near us to have a smoke and visit. Shortly after Mark's appearance, Adam Horovitz stepped out next to us to smoke too.

Both Mark and Horovitz were casual, answering fans' questions and posing for photographs. Paul asked Horovitz to sign his Money Mark tracksuit, which Mark and Yauch signed last October when we were in Las Vegas. Horovitz kindly obliged Paul's request. Rusty, in a brilliant action of memory recall, asked Horovitz where the mashed potatoes sample in "B-Boys Makin with the Freak Freak" came from.

"Oh, yeah!" Horovitz replied without hesitating. "That was ________." And he named the comedian! Rusty shouted, "Somebody write that down!" Unfortunately, none of us had paper and pen on us, and the event that followed (i.e., the show) caused us all to forget Horovitz' answer. I believe Horovitz' answer was something like "Mumphries," but Paul thought it was more like "Bosley." The source of the mashed potato sample is doomed to remain a mystery to fans.

We felt honored that Horovitz and Mark chose to take their cigarette break by us. There are only two doors at the Crocodile Cafe. At the time they came outside, no one was standing at the back door. They could have smoked there undisturbed, but instead they chose to be friendly and hang out with the fans. That's the kind of cool guys they are.

After Mark and Horovitz went into the venue, my friends and I talked about what we hoped we would hear the band perform that evening.

"Would you like to hear what I learned this morning when the crew were setting up the stage?" I asked my friends. Of course, they were all ears.

"Someone on the crew said 'hardcore songs.' No joke." I shared. "I think the 'all-instrumental' descriptor for the Gala Event is bullshit. Beastie Boys tricked us again!"

The possibility of hardcore songs being performed lead to a discussion of what we would like to hear if we could chose any song in the band's catalogue.

"I'd love to hear 'Do It'," said Paul. "That would be great!"

"I've never heard 'Remote Control.' I'd really like to hear that one, but that's never going to happen," I poo-pooed.

Strangely enough, both Paul and I would get our wish later that evening when the band performed both songs. It made us wonder if we were being spied on.

Inside the venue, soundcheck began. We strained to listen and make out what would be performed. Our suspicions about the Gala Event not being a vocal-less show were confirmed immediately when we heard Horovitz singing. We were oohing and awwwing about what we were hearing when a man approached us.

"You four are the front of the line, right?" he asked. "How would you like to go on-air to represent Beastie Boys fans and talk about the show?"

If this scenario were a film or TV show, the sound of a record needle being scratched across vinyl and stopped abruptly would be heard in the background.

"Are you with 107.7?" I inquired.

He made the mistake of saying yes.

"You're the guys who announced the show before the band could notify their fans. More fans might have gotten into this show if you hadn't done that," I told him.

I don't remember exactly what more I said to him, but I do remember Jenny, Paul, and Rusty laughing at how I chewed the guy out good and well. When I was done with him, he walked away like a dog with his tail hanging between his legs. It should go without saying that we did not go on-air with 107.7.

The soundcheck lasted for a solid hour and a half, extending beyond the scheduled doors open time. It was during the latter half of the soundcheck that the Crocodile Cafe staff began to let their ticketless friends and family into the club. I had overheard earlier in the day that the band had a huge guest list for the show; I don't believe that was true. It was the Crocodile Cafe who had more guests than anyone. We counted at least 70 people go into the venue before doors opened, compliments of the venue. Normally, a number like that would not be a dent in an audience; however, the Crocodile Cafe's capacity is only 300 people. Even more of the venue's guests entered after doors opened.

The fan queue that we began never got longer than 50 people total. Some of the people in the fan queue didn't even have tickets. They hung out hoping to find someone with a spare ticket.

My posse was fussing a bit about how many people were in the venue before doors opened, but I was confident that we'd get our spot in front of the stage. If there's one thing I know, it's VIPs are "too cool" to position themselves directly in front of the stage. When the doors opened, Jenny and I were first fans into the club. Paul and Rusty were directly behind us. We ran for our spots, which, sure enough, were free of VIPs. The only people at the stage were two teenage boys, who belonged to one of the Crocodile Cafe staff. (They turned out to be two of the biggest dead fish I've ever stood next to at a concert.) Two more fans -- one of them from the message board -- joined us at the front rail. And that was all the front rail could accommodate.

The band came on stage with little fanfare. Horovitz made a brief introduction and the band went directly into "B for My Name," which we had heard during the soundcheck. From the show's start, it was apparent that Horovitz and Diamond were having a great time -- a fabulous time, in fact. Equally apparent was how miserable Yauch was. Yauch's disposition was what everyone talked about after the show.

In short, Yauch acted like he wasn't there. He didn't look up, he didn't move, he didn't smile. He seemed uninterested. We couldn't tell if he was angry about something (for example, about how few fans got into the show), physically ill, or just not into it. I suspected he was sick because when he sang his first line in "Jimmy James," he sounded like he needed to gargle. The setlist may have been constructed with little vocal requirements from him on purpose.

Being sensitive people, my friends and I all felt bad that Yauch wasn't having a good time and wished we could do something to cheer him up. Yauch's disposition may explain Horovitz' and Diamond's opposite dispositions. Those two were ON FIRE! They were hot! They might have been trying to compensate for their blue friend.

I did manage to make Yauch laugh at one point during the show. For "Electric Worm," the band whistled in unison to begin the song. From my vantage point, I could clearly see that Yauch was faking his whistles.

"Yauch is faking it! He doesn't know how to whistle!" I yelled to Jenny, who was laughing at him with me. Yauch heard me and cracked a smile at us for just a brief second. It was the only sign of life from him during the entire show. We didn't hold it against him. We all have our bad days. His two bandmates' energy and enthusiasm more than made up for his lack of energy and enthusiasm.

Mr. Adam Horovitz* is always dynamic and interesting to watch on stage, but this particular evening, something very special was happening with him. I think what I saw in him was joy -- that is, a musician truly enjoying playing music. (Singing "Paul Revere" at every show might not be as satisfying as we would believe it to be.) Think of yourself doing the thing you love most and you'll be able to visualize Horovitz on the Crocodile Cafe stage.

Mr. Michael Diamond was equally as joyful as his guitar-playing friend. If there's one thing you can count on happening at a Beastie Boys show, it's Mike saying something goofy. One particularly memorable and goofy thing he talked about involved a challenge to Horovitz to stay on his side of the stage. Mike talked about taping a line on the floor to separate their areas. A very alert Money Mark jumped between them with a roll of duct tape and laid down the line. Yes, with the Beastie Boys, not only do you get a musical act, but also a comedy act!

Mr. Mark Ramos-Nishita, aka Money Mark, is always a dynamo. His performance of "Mark on the Bus" was one of the highlights of the Crocodile Cafe show for my friends and me. The song was so unexpected. It was like, "WOW!" I hope the song remains in the set in the future because everyone should get to hear it.

Mr. Alfredo Ortiz is a very talented drummer and percussionist. The man plays with a crazy number of bands. I believe he's currently up to 10 or 11 bands. At the Crocodile Cafe show, Fredo played drums on the hardcore tracks and percussions on the other songs. I hope that Fredo can help keep things interesting and real on the upcoming European tour.

Although the show was filled with many great moments, the hands-down supreme moment was the band's performance of "Time for Livin'." Wow, wow, wow! We yelled for someone to call the fire department because the band were smokin'!

When the show ended, Horovitz, Diamond, Ortiz, and Mark all stopped momentarily on their way off the stage to wave to and thank the audience. Yauch, still in a sour mood, walked off without doing anything -- not even putting down his instrument.

On our way out of the venue, my friends and I jointly pronounced the show a success, purchased some t-shirts, and made plans for our aftershow party.

*The suits make me want to call them "mister."

I shot some video at the show, but the audio is crappy because the speakers were right in front of me. Basically, you can hear the guitar and muffle. The "B for My Name" clip is probably the best one.

"B for My Name"

"Do It"

"Mark on the Bus"

View my photos from the show at my Flickr account.


10:49 PM klepto said...

yauch needed me there! i would've acted like a total dork in front of everyone if it made him smile! :)

i be stupid for yauch! lol

i'm glad you could make him smile! :D

10:53 PM klepto said...

i hope for future shows, yauch gets his time to shine in a solo! oh oh oooooh that'd definitely make ME smile. :)

11:03 PM Hot Sauce said...

Yauch was back to his old self the next day, so whatever was bugging him was only temporary.

11:22 PM pshabi said...

Thanks for that. Very cool.

11:25 PM klepto said...

i volunteer teaching the yauchman how to whistle, if he teaches me bass! ;D

11:26 PM Lucy said...

I am jealous of you and your friends for getting to see that show. I would love to see the Beasties in a small club!

1:06 AM Anonymous said...

why did they advertise it as a show and sell tickets on ticketbastard if they planned to let in only 50 fans? what's the point? they should just play shows for their friends and families. i'm sure those people will support them by buying their albums.

3:46 AM QBX said...

If you're still wanting to know who performed the mashed potatoe sample...

Its Richard Pryor, other samples from him are also used in "Funky Boss" and "Flute Loop".

10:05 AM Hot Sauce said...

^The mashed potato sample is definitely NOT Richard Pryor.

12:13 PM Anonymous said...

Oh my God it's Dolemite........Dolemite........Dolemite

2:43 PM qbx said...

hmm, it could also be Red Foxx...

4:29 PM Hot Sauce said...

Sorry, it's not Red Foxx.

Horovitz said exactly who it was. We wouldn't have forgotten if he said Red Foxx or Richard Pryor.

Perhaps I'll submit myself to being hypnotize so I can recall what Horovitz said. :P

4:32 PM paulbonardelli said...

its Bosley! LOL, i think i just invented that...

4:39 PM Hot Sauce said...

I think you were watching "Charlie's Angels."

2:54 AM Winebibber said...

Jackie "Moms" Mabley. the next time a beastie divulges that kind of information, carve it into your arm!

5:34 AM Adam said...

someone posted what he said on the board... I forget what thread it was in though and I'm too lazy to go digging. I'm happy for you guys, good job on the tickets and whatnot.

6:00 AM Hot Sauce said...

Horovitz didn't say "Moms Mabley." I would have remember if he said that because I'm familiar with her work.

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