BY JOSE MARTINEZ
Maybe it was the timeless music of Brian Wilson or it was the ever flowing Jameson Irish Whiskey, but it was hard not to have a good time at Brian Fest, a night to celebrate the music of Brian Wilson at L.A.’s Fonda Theatre
Once again Jameson and the Cabin Down Below Band teamed up for a night of music and drink to benefit Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Past fests have paid tribute to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and The Rolling Stones. While Brian Fest coincided with the release of Wilson’s No Pier Pressure next week, this night was all about the lovely and harmonious music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.
Invited guests to take on Wilson’s rich catalog included Devandra Banhart, M. Ward, Local Natives, Ke$ha, Wilson Phillips, Boz Scaggs, Al Jardine, Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips, Norah Jones, and Ann Wilson among others. But the star of the night was clearly Wilson, who still loomed larger than life when he took center stage late in the evening.
During a pre-show interview with a local news station, Wilson agreed that his songs are timeless. “They’ve stood the test of time and they’re still good.”
While the apt Cabin Down Below Band kicked off the night’s festivities with “Do It Again” and “Surfin’ Safari”, some of the early performances were marred by a lack of harmony, which is the staple to any Brian Wilson song.
Props to Devendra Banhart for really getting into the spirit of night dressed as a carrot while singing “Vegetables”. Local Natives really shined on “I Get Around” as did Ke$ha, a last-minute sub for Killers’s singer Brandon Flowers, on “California Girls”. Boz Scaggs was great on “Sail on Sailor” as was Norah Jones on “God Only Knows”. Wayne Coyne was his typical free spirit, self-talking on “Good Vibrations,” and Ann Wilson delivered on “Warmth of the Sun”.
By the time Brian Wilson finally got onstage for “Surfer Girl” as well as “Fun, Fun, Fun”, “Surfin’ USA” and “Barbara Ann”, he proved that even at age 72 and somewhat frail, his presence still casts a large shadow. With a glass of Jameson in hand (sometimes in both hands) and the rich and lush music of Brian Wilson as the soundtrack to a great night out, you couldn’t ask for a better, fun-filled night.
Do It Again (Cabin Down Below Band)
Surfin Safari (Cabin Down Below Band)
Till I Die (Lucius)
Be True to Your School (Adam Busch & Danny Masterson)
I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (Jade Castrinos)
Meant For You (Devendra Banhart)
Vegetables (Devendra Banhart)
Surf’s Up (The Punch Brothers)
Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Joy Williams)
You’re So Good to Me (M. Ward)
Don’t Talk Put Your Head on My Shoulder (M. Ward)
Let Him Run Wild (Local Natives)
I Get Around (Local Natives)
Caroline, No (Karen Elson)
California Girls (Kesha)
Wild Honey (Blondie Chaplin)
In My Room (Wilson Phillips)
Feel Flows (Doyle Bramhall II)
Sail on Sailor (Boz Scaggs)
Sloop John B (Al Jardine)
Good Vibrations (Flaming Lips)
Little Bird (Norah Jones & Gingger Shankar)
God Only Knows (Norah Jones)
Warmth of the Sun (Ann Wilson)
Our Prayer (Cabin Down Below Band)
Surfer Girl (Brian Wilson, Norah Jones, Boz Scaggs)
Fun, Fun, Fun (All)
Surfin’ USA (All)
Barbara Ann (All)