The Beach Boys led one of the more energetic sing-along nights in recent memory at Rudder Auditorium on Friday night, in a concert presented by MSC OPAS. Festive and fun (times three), the crowd members belted out the words, bopped their heads and clapped for most of the night.
(The band’s sunny sound also inspired a major fashion shift from typical OPAS attire, with an approximate 97 percent increase in Hawaiian shirts.)
The thick roster of Beach Boys hits ensured that the fans would be happy throughout: Surfin’ Safari, Catch a Wave, Be True to Your School, Little Deuce Coupe, Sloop John B, California Girls, Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann. The slow-and-dreamy Surfer Girl was buoyed by everyone turning on their phone flashlights at frontman Mike Love’s request. Rudder lit up like a Christmas tree.
One hiccup was Do It Again, which was accompanied by a video of Love singing it with actor pal John Stamos and Mark McGrath, best known for fronting Sugar Ray. The clip was harmless, but McGrath’s vocals were audible. This very well could just be me, but when I see the Beach Boys, I'd rather not hear Sugar Ray.
That same technique was a huge success later during God Only Knows, perhaps the Beach Boys’ prettiest tune. Carl Wilson, who died in 1998, sang lead on the original. His vocals were played via a recording, while video clips of him in concert were shown on the screen, and the band played and sang backup. A wonderful treatment for a wonderful song.
Jeffrey Foskett, who once was on Brian Wilson’s side of the Beach Boys camp but now tours with Love, was a major highlight, hitting the high notes in the harmonies, especially on Don’t Worry Baby. Bruce Johnston, who joined the band in 1965, led the soft-and-sweet Disney Girls. And the a cappella four-part harmony in Their Hearts Were Full of Spring was remarkable.
The accompanying video clips added nostalgia and historical context to the band’s heyday, along with many, many girls-on-the-beach scenes. There is a wistful side to seeing the Wilsons in those clips – Carl, Dennis (who died in 1983) and Brian (who tours on his own) – inevitably leaving me wondering why the two touring factions can’t get it together.
But this wasn’t the time, not with the fun music all around. It’s hard to deny the infectious beginning of Surfin’ USA, the energy that pours out of I Get Around and Good Vibrations and the soaring harmonies in Wouldn’t It Be Nice. The band closed – appropriately – with Fun, Fun, Fun, earning a standing ovation.