When Beastie Boys recently announced a Get Out and Vote Tour that was going to hit all of the "swing states" for the upcoming election, I immediately thought of North Carolina being one of those states. The next thought was, "It would be great if they played Charlotte, but they'll probably pick Raleigh or someplace else." Well, I was wrong. The Boys are headed to Amos' Southend on Oct. 27 for a show that sold out in roughly five minutes.
"It's all come together really fast," Adam Horovitz, aka AdRock and one-third of the Beastie Boys, says by phone from the New York City studio where the band is working on its next album, due out next year. "We had a few ideas on what we wanted to do and this just seemed like the most 'what we know how to do' thing. We talked to people in Rock the Vote organizations and they said [Charlotte] is the place to go."
As for the venue selection -- most other cities are holding shows at arenas and coliseums -- Horovitz says it was a manager's decision and they just go where they're told. When it comes to the impact the shows will have, Horovitz says he isn't sure what that will be, but he doesn't "want to sit at home and do nothing. I need to do something. What I know how to do best is go and play shows and talk to people."
Though the band has never been one to hold back its political views -- examples of which can be found on 2004's To the 5 Boroughs and in the Tibetan Freedom Concerts they have been a part of -- the band hasn't done a tour of this nature before. Horovitz says most Americans are stressed because of the close races in the last two elections and while there are often rallies to get people to register to vote, more should be done after that step in the process.
"I realized how many people didn't vote in the last two presidential elections," Horovitz says. "There will be organizations at the shows helping people find out where to vote. So many people register, but they get caught up in that moment and then don't know where to go. The problem is the 'now what?' phenomenon. The problem isn't that people don't register, it's that 35 percent of registered voters didn't vote. That's a lot of fuckin' people."
While the idea behind the tour is a political one, Horovitz doesn't want the mood to be too heavy during the show. He says Beastie Boys will stick with a hip-hop set since other groups are playing at each show, eliminating the need for instruments. "I'm already bummed out, so I don't want to play [political songs] and get more bummed out," Horovitz says. "We want it to be fun. This is our hour to have fun, so we're not going to give speeches about numbers and health care." He jokingly adds that "Shake Your Rump" is "a hot-button issue for McCain."
While the guests at the Charlotte show are Sheryl Crow and Santogold, other special guests may appear. A rumor as of press time was for a free show at CPCC with Tenacious D -- "That'd be great, but we'll find out if Jack Black walks in or not," Horovitz says. He says the guests were decided by calling a long list of people and, if they were available, they're on the tour.
He has also received calls from numerous acts who want to be a part of the shows ever since they were first announced a couple weeks ago. "It's not 'Beastie Boys headline the show,' because it's more than just our show," Horovitz says. "I'm not that familiar with Sheryl Crow's records, but if she's down for the cause you can't say no. There might be other special guests. I've been on the phone with some friends -- I don't know. I don't know if Jack Black is coming or not, but I've been talking to some other special, secret people."
He adds that Tegan and Sara heard about the shows and called the Beastie's management and "someone like Fall Out Boy" also contacted the band. Horovitz's response was, "Hey, if they want to play, come on!" He says set times will be figured out once they know how many people are going to perform.
He also says while the Beastie Boys haven't done many collaborations in the past, coming up with one at this show is a possibility. "I hope so," Horovitz says. "We've never done a superjam before. We're not that talented, so maybe we can do something like 'Give Peace a Chance' or 'Fight the Power.' A capella, we could rock it. I think Sheryl Crow would be the musical backbone to a jam. I just don't want to make any promises in this election time," he says with a laugh.
"We want to have fun, but we just don't want to forget the reason why we're there. People need to tell their friends there's a reason they registered, and they need to get out and vote this time."