The Beastie Boys were looking for a VJ using oscilloscopes. Lighting/Stage Designer Spike Brant asked me to perform live oscilloscope visuals to the upcoming single “Ch-Check It Out” – I passed the test.

My first show was the MTV VMAs. I set up my antique oscilloscopes and modified video gear at FOH to the great confusion of the roadies… “Why don’t you just play the video from a media server?”. Super-sync’d visuals were not yet common.

Beastie Boys “Ch-Check It Out” on MTV VMAs with Benton C Bainbridge live visuals

Next up was a full length concert taping for MTV2 “$2 Bill”,  followed by appearances on nearly every MTV channel worldwide. On set for Vh1, a dead mic caused the ‘Boys a second take. Ad Rock just smiled and said “technical difficulties are your best entertainment value.”

After a few TV specials, I was happy to start playing concerts for the summer stages. The Beasties asked me to wear a white lab coat since I was on downstage right with my mad-scientist rig of oscilloscopes, rescan cameras and other ‘Radio Shack’ gear as Production Manager Bill Rahmy called it. Jenny, Spike, Nemo Hoffman and I rescanned shots of NYC’s five boroughs, as well as the ‘iMag’ of the band on stage. Later, someone dubbed this technique ‘artMag’. I worked with Stephan Moore to create ScopeMate, software that replaced a rack of EQs and oscillators I was using to drive the ‘scopes. Presets made it easier to keep pace with Mix Master Mike!

I was privileged to co-design the visuals for the next two world tours, “To the 5 Boroughs’ and “The Mix Up.”

The show evolved for the stadium tour in support of “To the 5 Boroughs”. We incorporated EIC Stuart White’s custom built matrix camera rig and multiple robot cams under his control, content from the earlier concerts as well as more material from the Beasties themselves. We swapped the old-school gear for a bleeding-edge system integrating light and video control through 3 networked GrandMA lighting boards. Using Breck Haggerty’s NEV system, the video cues were gradually integrated with the lighting cues being triggered by Mike Lamb. As the tour progressed, I programmed myself off the tour. You can read about the video and lighting design for “To the 5 Boroughs” tour at Live Design

By 2007’s The Mix Up tour, I was strictly a co-designer/co-creator of the video content displayed on Spike Brant’s amazing RGB LED “Calder-Mobile”. However, for the Beastie Boy’s one-off shows, short legs and TV appearances, I’d get called in for special designs or to perform visuals from the stage; this time the ‘Boys asked me to trade the lab coat for a vintage suit.

MCA 1964 – 2012 I am sad that Adam Yauch lost his long battle with cancer. We’ve lost a great man, but MCA’s music, Nathaniel Hornblower’s videos, Adam Yauch’s activism and his curation for Oscilloscope will keep us laughing and thinking for generations to come. I shared some memories of working with MCA and the Beastie Boys in an interview with the Nashville Scene you can read here