This is Flashback, where we’re reminiscing about some of the most iconic and obscure moments in alt-rock history. This week, we’re looking at when Beastie Boys played “Sabotage” on David Letterman in 1994.
It’s hard to believe it has been over a decade without Adam “MCA” Yauch on the planet. In honor of the trailblazing MC, who passed away on May 4, 2012, we’re remembering the time Beastie Boys lit up David Letterman’s stage with their Ill Communication rager “Sabotage.” It was 1994, and the band were in the midst of performing on Lollapalooza (back when the event was a touring festival). Of course, they made time to stop by Late Show with David Letterman.
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“Our next guests are fly, fresh, dope, and fat,” Letterman jokes as he introduces the band while holding a copy of III Communication, which had recently cracked the Billboard 200 at No. 1. The performance captures Beastie Boys’ explosive, snotty blend of rock and hip-hop at full bore, with Ad-Rock screaming into the mic, MCA maintaining wicked basslines, and Mike D laying down a beat. It’s incredible how they put that much energy into a song that’s only one chord, but you can credit that to their love of punk and how they made hip-hop shows feel like a mosh pit.
Watch the performance below.