SEATTLE -- Standing at the back of the line to get into Key Arena, 19-year-old
Alex Nader surveyed the fevered fans stretched out for what seemed like forever in front
An hour before the opening show of the Beastie Boys' U.S. tour Friday, hundreds of
bodies from his final destination, and Nader was acting like the luckiest guy in the world.
"I'm so pumped right now dude!" he screamed. "I know the Beasties are going to tear it
Beastiemania had taken Nader like it had consumed everyone else in the general
vicinity. In fact, this whole town -- where grunge rock and baseball's Seattle Mariners
were practically all that mattered once -- appeared to have come down with the Beasties'
A young girl near the front of the line held a cardboard sign that read "I've got Beastie
fever." And for those similarly afflicted -- with no tickets to ease their torment -- scalpers
were on hand to dispense the prized items for as much as $200 apiece.
The day before the New York trio played the sold-out date, a palpable sense of
Beastiemania prevailed in Seattle. Over at the Pacific Science Theater, "The Beastie
Boys' Laser Show" -- a visual spectacular featuring the music of the B-Boys set to
pulsating laser beams normally reserved for the likes of psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd
and Jimi Hendrix -- was unfolding in all its techno splendor. Promo posters of the
Beasties' new album, Hello Nasty, were plastered onto every window of every
record store. Local radio stations were blasting out songs from the album, along with
advertisements for the show.
The Beasties were everywhere. And so were their fans.
Many were dressed much like the Beastie Boys themselves, with the requisite baggy
pants, Beastie Boys T-shirts and skateboarding shoes.
All the major subcultures seemed to be in attendance, from dreadlocked and sandal-clad
hippies to young white boys dressed like ghetto gangsters. There were high-school girls
wearing layers of makeup and tight dresses. The tattooed-and-pierced leather set also
dropped by. And there were a few punk-rock kids, decked out in leather motorcycle
jackets with multicolored, spiked hair.
Three guys even showed up in full undercover-cop garb, a la the Beasties'
"Sabotage" video, complete with glued-on mustaches and megaphones.
Inside the huge arena, the majority of the crowd flocked to the floor around the turntable
stage. As the crowd grew denser, its collective sways and movements became more
chaotic. For some, this was the best way to see the show.
"I was in the crowd. I love getting beat up," 23-year-old Barb Thomas said. Others --
mostly older, more sedate types -- grabbed seats for a more relaxed vantage point.
Finally, when everyone had settled in, the Beastie Boys hit the stage with their eclectic
brand of hip-hop. Their set was stocked with all of the major Beastie food groups:
hip-hop, punk, psychedelic funk ... even a Billy Joel cover.
"I love Billy Joel, so I thought it was cool," Thomas said. "But then again, I thought the
Billy Joel concert was pretty good too."
After the show, the audience members loitered around the arena, reliving the highlights.
"I thought it was an awesome show. It was like a crescendo of energy with the punk and
the funk. It was superfly," gushed 23-year-old Helen Litrall, who drove to Seattle from
Portland, Ore., to catch the opening night.
Like Litrall, a number of the fans went out of their way, literally, to show their loyalty.
Steve Clark, 28, got up at 5 a.m. the day of the show to catch the five-hour ferry to Seattle
from British Columbia. It was his fifth Beastie Boys show -- his first was when the Boys
toured with Run-D.M.C. in 1987.
"This was the best show yet," he said. "I liked the old punk and the new hip-hop, but it
was all good. I like the round stage. It gave everybody in the pit a chance to see."
But for some, seeing the show wasn't enough. Later that night, many fans flocked to a
local night club, the Beat Box, to catch the "Official Beastie Boys After Party."
As usual, there was another line -- this one, around the block -- with Beastie-maniacs
waiting for the chance to see the Boys up close and personal.