Beach Boys, 1 July 2012
I returned to Milwaukee a month later to see the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour at Summerfest. It was a well-executed trip through their hits and a number of unexpected gems from their catalog.
The tour was notable for including Brian Wilson, who largely stopped touring with the group in 1965. However, his presence brought into relief the schizophrenic identity of the band - with Wilson on the introspective artistic side and lead singer Mike Love on the party-band side. The Baby-Boomers there to relive their hormonal adolescence through Surfing, USA didn't quite get the point of the more subtle pieces like I Just Wasn't Made For These Times or deep album cuts like All This is That that were clearly targeted at the Wilson cognoscenti.
And for those of us knowing Wilson's long history of mental problems and tortured relationship with the commercial monster he created in his 20's, seeing him sequestered largely mute and motionless at a grand piano stage right brought back disturbing echoes of the exploitive Brian's Back promotions of the late 1970s and the industrial-strength antipsychotics of the early 1980s. For the final encore of Fun, Fun, Fun, Wilson strapped on a prop Fender Bass so we could imagine that it was 1964 again and all the crap of the past 45 years had never occurred. But halfway through the raucous finale, Wilson signaled for a tech and took off the bass, standing up center stage almost motionless as the rest of the band gyrated to a fever pitch. A truly odd Judy Garland moment that seemed to go unnoticed by most. It was as if he had finally had enough of the lie and just wanted to get the bows over with, pick up his check, and get the hell out of there.
The Set List:
Do It Again Catch a Wave Hawaii Don't Back Down Surfin' Safari Surfer Girl Come Go With Me Why Do Fools Fall in Love When I Grow Up (to Be a Man) Please Let Me Wonder Wendy Getcha Back Then I Kissed Her Disney Girls Isn't It Time Kiss Me, Baby California Saga: California Cotton Fields Be True to Your School Ballad of Ole' Betsy Still Cruisin' Don't Worry Baby Little Deuce Coupe 409 Shut Down I Get Around Intermission
Pet Sounds Add Some Music to Your Day Heroes and Villains Sloop John B Wouldn't It Be Nice I Just Wasn't Made for These Times Sail on, Sailor All This Is That That's Why God Made the Radio In My Room Forever God Only Knows Good Vibrations California Girls Help Me, Rhonda Rock and Roll Music Do You Wanna Dance? Surfin' USA Encore: Kokomo Barbara Ann Fun, Fun, Fun