Jay-Z, Coldplay Offer Beastie Boys Tributes at APW

Exciting few days of music for New York. At a down-low Diesel party Thursday night, Kanye, the Clipse, Lykke Li, Passion Pit, The Roots, and Cobra Starship all rocked the same house, and it was free, with an open bar. On Friday night, The National, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Jay-Z — filling in for the Beastie Boys, who are on hiatus until Adam Yauch can recover from health issues — brought the house down as the headliners for the first night of All Points West, what’s now clearly the East Coast’s version of Coachella. Saturday’s lineup, capped by My Bloody Valentine and Tool, was slightly underwhelming (question: should MBV play venues that large?). Sunday, Coldplay reportedly killed it, charming even the most jaded hipster into enjoying “Yellow.” But the two moments this weekend will probably be remembered for were the tributes to the fallen/rescheduled Beasties.

The first was Jay-Z’s on Friday night: as a looming red clock counted down to something, anything, buzz started to build at the stage. At 0:00, the opening lyric of “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” came over the speakers (“NO. SLEEP. TIL.”), Jay-Z walked out in a leather jacket, and more or less tore the place down.

Jay-Z tore through Adam Yauch’s verse (“Born and bred Brooklyn – U.S.A. / They all me Adam Yauch – but I’m M.C.A. / Like a lemon to a lime – a lime to a lemon / I sip the def ale with all the fly women …”) before launching into his own Brooklyn tribute, “Brooklyn (Go Hard).” Some chose to see it as a thinly veiled shot at New Jersey, where the festival was held, in addition to a tribute to M.C.A., which, if true: hysterical, but that probably wasn’t the import. Either way, it was nice to hear about a guy who by no means has to pay tribute to those who came before him doing so. Jay-Z could’ve done far more of his own material instead of giving the Beastie Boys air time, or dipping through a Michael Jackson tribute during “Izzo.” It’s not the first time he’s done so, either: Jay-Z commonly pays tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., as well as Tupac, as evidenced by the Fade to Black documentary chronicling his Madison Square Garden performance. Or maybe he just wanted to play a rock show for the almost entirely rock festival; he closed with the Linkin Park-remixed version of “Encore” and put on a show with a full band, sans crews of hype-men, or the 20 ridiculous guest-spots that normally line a big live hip hop performance. For the most part, it was just Jay-Z, rocking out. Impressive.

Closing out the weekend were friends of Jay-Z (and Kanye West) Coldplay, who also — again, by no means needed to, but did — an acoustic cover of the Beasties’ classic “Fight For Your Right,” which strangely, bizarrely, unbelievably seems to work. Watch Chris Martin work his magic:

What’s amazing about Martin’s effort is (A) he won over a crowd that (B) wasn’t stunned by the aesthetic ballsiness of Coldplay covering a Beastie Boys song (Chris Martin saying “your mom threw away your best porno mag” is in and of itself a thrill distinct from the rest of the performance) from Licensed To Ill, and (C) he took it fairly seriously, and put some practice into it before performing it. It wasn’t jokey, and that’s what was truly nice about it. Coldplay also covered “Billie Jean,” but we can’t find video of the All Points West version (yet), so here’s one from a performance a few weeks ago:

A good cover not only adds to/distinguishes itself from the original song, but it also shows the common ground between the cover-er and the cover-ee. If one thing was made evident by the Beastie Boys’ absence, it’s not only that they were missed, but that they — in some way — informed so many of the acts there in one way or another, as evidenced by the pretty solid tributes they were given.
Beastie Boys Tickets

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