The Beastie Boys encapsulated a wide swath of pop culture in the 1990s — even though the New York band had blasted onto the scene with its brand of beer-swilling party-time hip-hop almost a decade earlier. There was the music, for sure, but the trio (Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock) were also deep into fashion, the skateboarding culture and sports.
“They had their hands everywhere. They were the youth of America,” says Dino Carrillo, or D-Rock, as he is known in the Pollywog Crew, the Beastie Boys tribute band that formed in L.A. in 2012. They play tonight at Strummer’s.
After the death of MCA (aka Adam Yauch) a lot of Beastie Boys tributes started popping up. Most focused on the frat-boy party-time music of “License to Ill.”
“We didn’t want to portray them that way,” Carrillo says.
The Pollywog Crew (its name is a play on the Beastie Boys’ lesser known debut EP), chooses to focus on the second stage of the Beastie Boys career — albums like “Paul’s Boutique” and “Ill Communication.”
“It was more true to the style of hip-hop we were doing on our own,” Carrillo says.
The crew still plays the hits — “Brass Monkey,” let’s say — but not as a straight copy of what’s on the record. They do the Beasie Boys as the band was on stage, even taking some creative license with the songs when needed, Carrillo says. So, they’ll play “Brass Monkey,” but do it to the beat of “Planet Rock.”
If they cover “Beat Down,” it might be over a beat from the Wu-Tang Clan.
“We keep it really fresh like that,” he says.
For those who never got the chance to see the Beastie Boys, it’s a taste of that experience.
For longtime fans, it’s a preservation of the Beastie Boys sound and legacy, Carrillo says.
“You’re going to leave feeling like you;ve seen the Beastie Boys again.”