Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Karen had an extra ticket to the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night, so I went with her to see Brian Wilson’s end-of-summer concert.
Wilson, of course, was the main architect of surfer rock ‘n roll as well as the brilliant mastermind behind the Beach Boys. He had a rather infamous nervous breakdown in the late 1960s and pretty much fried his brain on drugs (subscription and otherwise). Still, he’s managed to outlive his brothers and bandmates, Dennis and Carl Wilson, and continues to create beautiful music, even though his voice is fairly shot. Over the past four decades, I’ve seen him perform on stage more than any other musical artist.
We took the early bus to the Bowl, so we had plenty of time to look around and survey the audience. Most of the people were our age: baby-boomers who, like my sister and me, probably spent their teen summers hanging out in Santa Monica, listening to the Beach Boys on their transistor radios.
There wasn’t an opening act. Instead, the L.A. Philharmonic orchestra was scheduled to play a selection from “The Marriage of Figaro,” a Bach concerto and the overture from George Gershwin’s “Girl Crazy,” before Wilson and his band took the stage.
I called Tim while Karen was in the bathroom.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t come with us, because the Phil is playing ‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ Bach and ‘Girl Crazy’ before Brian comes out,” I told him.
“Gershwin is OK. But Bach and ‘The Marriage of Figaro’?!” he nearly yelled. “That was never part of the deal. Quick! Take a cab and come home right now!”
Well, a little opera never hurt anyone, so I stayed. And thank goodness, too, because there actually was a method to this seeming madness. Turns out Mozart, Bach and Gershwin are Wilson’s favorite composers, so the Bowl decided to include them as part of the celebration.
After the “Girl Crazy” medley, Wilson’s band came out, followed by Brian himself, looking a lot more spry than in the past. He greeted his fans and proceeded to immediately launch into “California Girls,” one of the Beach Boys’ most popular songs. Without missing a beat, the woman sitting directly in front of us leapt out of her seat, ripped off her jacket, and started gyrating in a tight-fitting Hawaiian-print dress. Not only was she (quite literally) the only person dancing in the entire Hollywood Bowl, but her movements were extremely provocative. I swear, all that was missing was a pole! Her poor husband was duly mortified.
Though our view was mostly obscured by the pole dancer’s shenanigans, we ended up having a great time and even got up to dance ourselves during “Help Me Rhonda” and “Johnny B. Goode.” I screamed along to “Fun, Fun, Fun”—SEEMS SHE FORGOT ALL ABOUT THE LI-BRARY, LIKE SHE TOLD HER OLD MAN, NOW! After all these years, Brian still knows how to rock.
The show ended with fireworks as Wilson and his band exited stage right. Summer is now officially over.