Beach Boys concert ‘fun, fun, fun’ for all
By BOB SAAR for The Hawk Eye
Published online: 9/8/2009
You might guess a band almost half a century old would be populated with superannuated blokes of yore.
Ah, but there are no old guys in the Beach Boys.
There were a lot of “old” baby boomer fans in the audience during Monday’s outdoor concert at Fairfield Middle School, but they were as uninhibited as any bunch of today’s teenagers ogling the Jonas Brothers.
The Beach Boys, centered around originals Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, included lead guitarist and music director Scott Totten, keyboardist Tim Bonhomme, Randell Kirsch on bass, guitarist Christian Love — son of Mike Love — and John Cowsill on drums.
You remember the Cowsills. Sure you do — that family band with the hit “Hair.”
Cowsill provided perfect surf drums for the two-hour concert, keeping many of the more than 4,000 concertgoers up and prancing the entire time. Those “old” folks did the Pony, the Swim, the Shimmy — long-forgotten go-go dances called up from collective memory by the jungle beat of surf music.
Kirsch, who has the daunting job of covering Beach Boy guru Brian Wilson’s high parts, relishes his spot.
“That’s the funnest job in the band,” he said.
Iowa band The Nadas provided the walk-in music with a solid set of roots rock.
“They were spot on awesome,” Iowa City musician Jason Bolinger said.
The main show began when Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy lauded Love with a proclamation, introducing the 68-year-old singer as “Fairfield’s Energy Czar Emperor.” The concert was a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation and the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, as well as a kickoff for Fairfield’s new Green Sustainability Plan aimed at energy conservation.
Love practices transcendental meditation at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield. MUM was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; the TM master was popular in the ’60s with the Beach Boys, the Beatles and other music and movie stars.
“Little Honda” got things up and running. At least a few aging Boomers recalled that the song is about motorcycles, not cars.
The vocals took a few songs to loosen up to the point of being totally tuned in and running smoothly, and that was OK — after all, the original band didn’t always hit all eight cylinders in concert.
And it was good and swell that this band didn’t do a clone routine, a “Mike Love Karaoke Hour.” They did all Beach Boy hits — my, those boys had a lot of hit singles — and they were the Beach Boys, without the Wilson boys, sure, but a real band, not some broken-down fossil staggering around the stage with the rights to a band name and a cadre of grungy sidemen to prop him up.
“Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “California Girls,” “Surfer Girl,” “Sloop John B.” The concert list was seemingly endless.
“Wouldn’t it be nice” was quite nice: “We could be happy,” the band sang, and the crowd sang with them, extremely happy to be there on a storybook Indian summer day in Iowa.
Johnston’s lead vocals, especially on “Do You Wanna Dance?” were as clean and pure as any 25-year-old crooner touring today.
“Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Good Vibrations,” God Only Knows.”
Children frolicked with their elders. Beach balls careened in the sky. Souls soared. People grew younger with each new tune.
A hotrod medley, of course: “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Shut Down,” “I Get Around” — one of surfdom’s best angsty laments — and “409.”
The old people knew the song referred to Chevy’s 409 cubic inch V8 engine coveted by hotrodders of the era. It is not known how many youngsters present wondered why this legendary group was singing about bathroom cleaning products.
The encore was not begged; everyone knew what was coming: “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
All had fun yesterday in Fairfield, all but the police, who had nothing more to do than direct traffic for the polite, smiling concertgoers.
“No fun for me today,” one Jefferson County deputy said. “I gotta work.”
Lynch Foundation Media Relations Director Ken Chawkin said the show was special for the band’s TM enthusiasts, especially Love.
“This must be a huge thrill for Mike, because he’s been coming here for years to meditate and take rejuvenation treatments,” Chawkin said of Love.
Perhaps that explains why there are no old guys in the Beach Boys.
Love was not too worn out afterward to echo the enthusiasm of the well-wishers who surrounded him backstage.
“I think it’s great here in Iowa,” he said. “This place is really special.”
The event producer for the David Lynch Foundation, Michael Sternfeld, was as upbeat as everyone else at the end of the show.
“There’s something about the audiences at Fairfield. … There’s something special here,” he said. “This was the ultimate experience. In terms of energy, we just nailed it.” He stopped to smile up into the blue. “We created serious good vibrations.”
Yeah, man. Good vibes and a whole lot of fun.