The Beach Boys Are Still ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’

By Stephanie Holstein ’19

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I first actively heard The Beach Boys when I was very small and watching the episode of Full House where the Tanner Family is invited to sing “Barbara Ann” with the Boys, and I remember thinking something like: “Wow, that’s a nice song.” This memory just came full circle last week because I SAW THE BOYS LIVE as a part of their 50th anniversary tour! Two of the original members. And while you may think my tone is sarcastic, it most certainly is not. The show was—from beginning to end—amazing, and just as good as the Full House concert.

For some reference:

In honor of my best friend’s birthday, we drove the two hours up to Warren, OH (Dave Grohl is from there!) which—aside from the show’s venue, the Packard Music Hall—is a little sad. After eating at a restaurant comparable to the exquisite cuisine of Mount Vernon’s Southside Diner, we headed to the show. Arriving a little late, the Boys were kind enough to push the show back 20 minutes for the late-comers (us) and by the time we got to our seats the show was in full swing.

Looking around, my suspicions of the general age range of the audience were confirmed. Aside from a six-year-old girl accompanying her father, we were the youngest ones there. However, as Aaliyah once said, “age ain’t nothing but a number,” because the crowd was ready to rock (in a very orderly, well-behaved fashion). 

The show included original Beach Boys members Al Jardine and David Marks, as well as Bruce Johnson, who joined after Brian Wilson quit touring in 1965, and Jeffrey Foskett, who has been with the band since 1980, singing some of Wilson’s most challenging parts. While the first few songs were unrecognizable to us, toward the end of the first half of the show we were suddenly overwhelmed with the sweet, sweet hits we loudly sang on the drive up: “Good Vibrations,” “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Barbara Ann,” and “Don’t Worry Baby”—my absolute jam—and the list goes on. 

(^a very amateur recording by me)

The first half of the show, however, was totally void of any songs off of Pet Sounds, which is arguably The Beach Boys’ most unique and renowned album of their career. Since the album came largely from the mind of Brian Wilson, we were worried they would just stick to their songs about cars and surfing.

Boy were we wrong. After intermission, in quick succession, they played “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Sloop John B.,” and finally “God Only Knows.” While all of the Boys’ vocals were in top form, the absence of Brian Wilson made these much-anticipated tracks fall short of expectations (Brian Wilson is currently on a solo tour, titled Pier Pressure, until December), yet the venue was still electrified by the wonderful lyrics, and vocal harmony of the band members. 

(^and again…hands shaking from excitement)

Looking down from our balcony seats, the first four rows of the floor seats were wild. People were dancing with reckless abandon and clapping off-beat, as they and every other audience member had a nostalgic smile on their face. While my friend and I really love The Beach Boys, it was neat to think about what a walk-down-memory-lane this concert must have felt like for much of the crowd. It made us wonder who we would be seeing in concert in 40 or 50 years, and we couldn’t think of a suitable equivalent (fingers crossed Mac Demarco is still touring).

Ultimately, we felt spoiled. Last year we saw Bob Dylan, and in a very Dylan-like fashion, he only played two well-known (and well-loved) hits. But The Beach Boy’s didn’t hold back, and just when we thought they couldn’t make us any happier, they played “Kokomo” and “California Girls” in their encore. By then, we were out of our seats—as was a quarter of the crowd—and danced in place without inhibition. There is something to be said about a band that is over half a century old and can transcend time, still rocking just as much as they did when they first started out. Thank you, Boys, for a wonderful night.

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