Karl Denson’s tribute to the Beastie Boys was booked solid at The Belly Up for two nights in a row last week. And if the Thursday night opening show was any indication of what the crowd and the performance was like on the second night, they could have easily done a third. Denson and his Tiny Universe had the sold out audience in delirium throughout the night, blasting out close to three hours of down and dirty funk jams.
Starting the night with a few instrumentals, Denson opened with just enough funky flavor to warm up the band and crowd. But once he introduced his “Beastie Boys,” the show slammed into high gear. The “Beasties,” played spot on by Kyle McDonald, OG and De La from Slightly Stoopid, hit the stage with a cannon ball of energy. Dressing the part, complete with gold chains swinging, hats backwards, and the Beastie swagger in tow, the trio came out hitting the three part raps with style. From the wide grins and frantic first few songs’ energy, it wasn’t hard to tell that the boys from Slightly Stupid were obviously pumped to be there. And for the next hour and a half, they tore through “Sabotage,” “Fight For Your Right To Party,” “Intergalactic Planetary,” “Paul Revere,” “Brass Monkey,” “Make Some Noise,” “Sure Shot,” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” to name more than a few.
The Beastie’s long parade of hits were strongly represented and showcased the amazing talent of the New York trio. Seeing the Beastie Boys done live, you really got a glimpse of the talent it takes to weave three different rappers into one song. And though McDonald, OG, and De La came strong throughout the night, it was obvious that getting the timing of when each of them was to come in, and out, took some effort. All of this was easily overshadowed by the over-the-top energy they brought to the performance. “Fight For Your Right To Party” (where they repeatedly tossed cans of beer into the crowd) and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” stood out as two party rockers that the boys really turned out, blowing up the mics and the crowd.
Throughout the night Denson threaded in a few Beastie instrumentals, giving his more-than-capable band a chance to expand on the jam. The last instrumental landed right before the encore of “Intergalactic Planetary,” giving the boys of Slightly Stupid a chance to change into their Beastie Boys space suits from the famous video, catch a breather, and bring their awesome energy and enthusiasm one more time.
As if the Beastie tribute was not enough, (and believe me, it was! The show could have ended and no one would have gone home disappointed), Denson and band returned to the stage and continued their funk assault for another hour and a half. All this plus a more than entertaining opening set from Chali 2 Na rounded out an incredible night of music. Best known for his time with Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, 2 Na had the crowd engaged from his opening number. His set was well paced and even included a few Michael Jackson interludes jammed between articulate rhymes. 2 Na got into it for over an hour, which is usually a long set for most openers. But because his band was so tight and his rap was so strong, it just made the night that much more enjoyable.
Last year at the Belly up, Denson did a night of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album and this year it was the Beasties. No matter what he seems to drop his funk on, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is more than capable of nailing whatever they choose to focus their wide-ranging talent on.