It's a warm night in downtown Phoenix and the members of local hip-hop group Drunken Immortals are making things even warmer inside the Pueblo practice space near the Crescent Ballroom as they rehearse a few Beastie Boys covers. A tiny A/C unit in the wall and a ramshackle swamp cooler overhead are working overtime but have little effect as seven musicians fill this particular room, each of whom are busy at the moment performing their respective parts of the hit Beastie Boys track, “Sure Shot.”
To wit: Immortals emcees Michael “Mic Cause” Cosentino and Brad B. spit lyrics along with local rapper Mesi Goodness from Antedote while Scotty White works the drums, Jeremy Dana plays guitar, DJ Just Chris drops beats, and Yojimbo Billions from Phoenix Afrobeat Orchesta is on keys.
It's spot-on as far as covers go, despite Consentino missing a verse or two, a fact that dawns on him after they wrap up the song.
“Hey, what did I fucking miss?” he asks.
Without skipping a beat, Brad B. clues in his bandmate. “Like Lee Perry, I'm very...”
“Aww shit,” Consentino. “I skipped a verse. I got it though. Let's do the next one.”
Missed lyrics aside, Drunken Immortals and company are on point and sound ready to take the stage at the Monarch Theater tonight for Sure Shot, a special Beastie Boys-themed tribute and art show, which will feature the ensemble covering a half-dozen of Ad-Rock, Mike D., and MCA's more hip-hop tracks, including “Rhymin & Stealin,” “Root Down,” and “The New Style.” Meanwhile, local punk band Nuclear Beach Party will cover some of the Beastie Boys more rock-oriented songs, such as as “So Wa'cha Want” and “Sabotage.”
The tribute will also offer a visual mix of Beastie Boys music videos, short film, and MTV appearances crafted by Oh Allen, as well as a set from DJ Tricky T, and showcase various works inspired by the group were thatcreated by more than 25 local artists.
Sure Shot is the brainchild of Matt Bray of Tempe art spot Hacienda Trading Company and promoter/painter Adam “Dumperfoo” Dumper of The Blunt Club. It pays tribute to one of the most influential acts in both hip-hop and music history. According to Dumper, Bray and others behind the scenes at the Hacienda Trading Company wanted to both give homage to the Beastie Boys (who sadly dissolved in 2012 after the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch) and to launch a series of theme nights and parties to pay tribute to to various hip-hop legends.
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"Its something they'd been wanting to do, some theme parties,” Dumper says. “They'd mentioned to me that they wanted to start off with a Beastie Boys-themed art show party and I just went with the music and the other things. And who doesn't like Beastie Boys? I think that was probably one of the biggest influences on me listening to hip-hop while growing up.”
Dumper isn't the only one who was inspired by the Beastie Boys in their adolescence.
Consentino remembers the first time he “bugged out” on the Beastie Boys like it was yesterday, despite the fact it happened 28 years ago. At age 12, he was blasting Licensed to Ill along with some cousins of his when the track “Paul Revere” started blasting from their stereo system. And then things started getting crazy.
“We were in the bedroom listening to it, loud as fuck, and we all started bugging out about it. I was like, 'This is the shit.'” he says. “We listened to it over and over and by the third time we had it [memorized].” It was a formative moment in Consentino's life and sparked off his lifelong love of the Beastie Boys, who in turn heavily influenced his career as both a solo MC and as a member of Drunken Immortals. “I feel like they've inspired everything I've done,” he says.
Bandmate Brad B. has Beastie Boys memory of his own. In 1992, he got a chance to attend a wild concert in his hometown of Indianapolis, which was a part of their Check Your Head tour.
“They were like my fucking idols when I was growing up,” he says. “Loved 'em. MCA was my favorite.”
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Needless to say, when Consentino and Brad B. were invited to perform at Sure Shot, they eagerly signed up.
“Just to do it would be fun, first of all, and its a little tribute to them,” Brad B. says. “We've never really done something like this, since most hip-hop [artists] don't tend to recreate songs, but its been fun doing this shit, especially since we all love [the Beastie Boys].”
"Yeah, that's true, that's one thing we were talking about, nobody does hip-hop covers." Consentino says. “But we really wanted to do this.”
Sure Shot - A Beastie Boys Art Show and Tribute takes place on Thursday, May 28, at Monarch Theatre. Admission is $5.