by Ticketfly Founder and CEO, Andrew Dreskin
I was pretty broken up to hear that Adam Yauch passed away last week. The first time I came across the Beastie Boys was in 1986 when I was 17 years old. They opened up for Run DMC at a sweet sixteen that I attended at a home on Long Island. Yes, you heard me, a sweet sixteen! They had barely released Licensed to Ill at the time and if memory serves, Fight For Your Right hadn’t yet overtaken the airwaves. The Beasties were unlike anything I’d seen before. I remember them – probably 20 years old, clad in jeans, gold chains and baseball hats – hitting on middle-aged women in ball gowns at the bar. And the topper to the evening was when the mother of the girl for whom the party was being thrown found the Beasties rifling through the drawers in her bedroom. They got thrown out of the party.
Like most music fans growing up in 80s and 90s, I fell in love with the Beastie Boys. I went to see them more times than I can remember. I reviewed one of their concerts – at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans – during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for the seminal online music magazine Addicted to Noise. I saw the Beasties at Lollapalooza at Downing Stadium in New York City in 1994. That was one of my favorite Lolla lineups: The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, L7 and a new band called Green Day. I went back to Downing Stadium to see Adam Yauch’s Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1997. The lineup was ridiculous: Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, U2, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, Rancid, Björk, Pavement, Blur, Michael Stipe & Mike Mills, Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready, Porno for Pyros, and Lee Scratch Perry were some of the acts that played that day. Free Tibet was a cause I could get behind and it gave me a new appreciation for Adam Yauch. It was clear that these guys had changed a lot from the first time I saw them.
After I sold TicketWeb I moved back to New York and dreamed up my next idea. The East Coast needed a European-style rock festival, so I founded the Field Day Music & Arts Festival. Field Day is a long story for another time, but what I can say is that from the get-go I knew only two bands could help me get Field Day off the ground: Radiohead and the Beastie Boys. Who better to help launch a massive New York-based music festival than the Beastie Boys? So I made the pitch to the Beasties agent and management and even though they weren’t touring, they said yes. They got it. The festival didn’t exactly go as planned, but the Beasties acted with grace and aplomb in the face of a somewhat dodgy situation, which I think says a lot about them.
Years later, along with Seth Hurwitz of the 9:30 Club and Merriweather Post Pavilion, I founded the Virgin Mobile Festival. In 2007, we were fortunate to have the Beasties play at Virgin. They were amazing as always. One of the highlights of my career was watching the Beasties play on the main stage before The Police. We were told at the time that the Beasties were pretty fired up to be playing before The Police, of whom they were fans. I remember my son, who was 2 years old at the time, rocking out to the Beasties. It made a father proud.
For the past ten years I lived in lower Manhattan. On occasion I used to see Adam Yauch tooling around the City. I will miss those days.