It's one thing to rhyme about rocking a house party until your hair turns gray in the future tense, when it's something that may or may not ever actually happen. It's totally another to do it, repeatedly, before a crowd of tens of thousands in a field of baked mud somewhere in Tennessee.
And yet here were the Beastie Boys on Friday night, taking the main stage as one of the elder acts in a lineup full of them, celebrating both a new album and the reissues of several classic records.
The Beasties drew a huge crowd, and -- as is customary when they stick to the bangers ("Sure Shot," "Super Disco Breakin'", even an endearingly ragged stomp through "No Sleep Till Brooklyn") -- the collective hands-in-the-air vibe is sort of fantastic. When they break out the instruments, things drop to about half-speed; there's not much about "Sabrosa" and "Something's Got to Give" that makes them festival tracks.
Here's a good festival track: The Beasties brought out fellow New York MC Nas for a solid stomp through what might be called "Too Many Rappers" (title guesstimate brought to you by The Internet), possibly from the group's new "Hot Sauce Committee," due this fall. We are throwing in the many qualifiers because sometimes things change on hip-hop records. Sorry.
But there was authenticity: "There is no tape. There is no iPod. This is live music, y'all," Adrock chimed by way of explaining one of the band's, er, two separate cue fumbles in "Sabotage." Weirded people out for a minute - let's be honest, it's a break, then guitar riff, then "YAAAAARGH!" - but these are the things you can get away with when you're suddenly being pitched as elder statesmen, when you're being name-checked by Public Enemy in their "Nation of Millions" performances, and when your hair turns gray. --Jeff Vrabel