Great Moment In AUCW History: Robb Steele as The Beastie Boys (2007) #RIPMCA

When I was setting up the submission form for AUCW6 a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the fact that the 10 artists covered in our first year were now eligible to be covered again — and I found myself feeling somewhat defensive about this fact. The defensiveness comes from a strong desire to protect the amazing job that those first 10 bands did over 5 years ago.

This was also the point where I began to remember how it all started and I began to relive the time right before doors on September 7th, 2007. We were running way behind on getting the stage setup. We were worried if this whole thing was going to even work or not. We had no idea if all of the bands had really practiced as much as they said they did. We knew that people were lining up outside. We were trying not to drink our beers too fast. And most of all, we were super excited.

Flash forward about an hour… The room is now packed. And it was a different crowd than we were used to, too. People of different ages and different parts of the city, yet all were there for the same purpose.

Around this time, Shawn Lynch (DJ Innovation) of Pandelerium took the stage and stepped up to the turntables. He casually placed the headphones over his ears and took a moment to cue up the track. The house music was still up and hardly anyone noticed him up there.

And in one swift action, the lights dimmed and the house music cut to a startling silence. I remember this really bright white par can shining behind his head and it almost felt as if the strange, silent pause was happening on purpose. And then, they emerged. From behind the stage, spitting the opening lines to “The New Style”, came Pete, Marty, and Bryan, otherwise known as Robb Steele.

Very quickly it became evident that these were not the same guys that we were used to bellying up to the bar with. No, because on this night, for everyone in the room, they were The Beastie Boys and they single-handedly jumpstarted our now annual tradition of reliving our fondest musical memories together at AUCW.

Robb Steele as The Beastie Boys. AUCW 1, 2007

The Beastie Boys (LEFT) - Robb Steele as The Beastie Boys @ AUCW1 (RIGHT)

And today, upon finding out about the passing of Adam Yauch (“MCA”), I found myself nearly in tears over the loss of someone who was such a part of my musical roots. He was an incredible musician, poet, activist, and even more than that, just an incredibly great human. My partner-in-crime, Mike Cracchiolo said it best though…

The Beastie Boys were one of the groups chosen to be represented in the very first AUCW, and with good reason. They were iconic and larger than life, almost singlehandedly responsible for ushering hip hop over to the mainstream. Back in grade school one of my best friends had License To Ill on cassette and it became one of my earliest favorite records. If Mike D was the brains of the group and Adrock was its fiery mouthpiece, than MCA was undoubtedly the soul. In a group that was founded on loud, smartassed party anthems, he managed to stand out as the socially conscious, dignified one, and he was a killer bassist to boot. He was and will always remain my favorite Beastie Boy.

It brings us both great joy to look back on the tradition of AUCW as a living love letter to the music that has shaped who we are today and we are incredibly proud to have been given the opportunity to pay tribute to the musical legacy of The Beastie Boys while Adam was still alive. RIP MCA

Posted by Mike Tomko on May 4, 2012