June 13 [16:00 EDT] -- The mood at last weekend's two-day Tibetan Freedom Concert swayed from as performers either used the event as a melancholy reminder of a grim political situation or as an excuse for a sun-splashed celebration.
Many performers, like Alanis Morissette, Eddie Vedder, and the R.E.M. contingent, turned in low-key sets that brought to mind the somber impetus for the show. Meanwhile, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, A Tribe Called Quest, and (of course) the Beastie Boys unloaded high-impact sets on the Randall's Island crowd that brought a fun-in-the-sun vibe to the politically aware festivities.
Saturday's first wave of the Tibet show saw some previously high-energy artists turn it down a bit either in deference to the cause of the day or the gray blanket of clouds that stretched across the stadium. Renowned rockers like Porno For Pyros, U2 and Oasis' Noel Gallagher all went the low-energy route, serving up melodic, atmospheric sets that balanced well with
the assault of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion [Live 800k QuickTime], KRS-One, and Patti Smith among others. The Foo Fighters in particular sent bodies flying with a tight, powerful, energized set. As guitarist Pat Smear jumped and kicked without missing a beat, frontman Dave Grohl screeched his way through a set of primarily new material.
"There's been a lot of great music today, so we thought we'd come out here and make a bunch of noise," Grohl told the audience before launching into "Monkey Wrench." The group's ability to stop on a dime, take a breath, and leap right back into a song proved that new drummer Taylor Hawkins has more than acclimated to his new gig.
The Beastie Boys took a similar tact when putting the fork in the two day festival on Sunday evening. After a day dotted by solemn outings from Pearl Jam's Vedder and Mike McCready, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Mike Mills, and even Bjork (who opted for more
sweeping, orchestral numbers during her stint) the crowd was primed for the Beasties' unique brand of mayhem.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones [Live 1MB QuickTime], Blur, and Rancid helped to whet the audience's appetite with power-packed turns, but nothing could have fully prepared them for the Beasties. Getting things started with the all-out wallop of "Sure Shot," the band quickly whipped the crowd into a full-blown mob. Soon, a steady stream of limp, fainted bodies were being passed from the pit over the protective barricade and into the arms of a line of security guards.
The Beasties set 'em up with a pack of their hip-hop hits ("Root Down," "So What'cha Want," and "Paul Revere" among others) [Live 2.6MB QuickTime], and them knocked 'em down when they picked up their instruments and went into band-mode. From the fuzzed-out bass of "Gratitude" and "Sabotage"
to the hardcore punk of "Heart Attack Man" and their mutated double-time take on Billy Joel's "Big Shot," the Beastie Boys kicked out an energy that would level mere mortals.