LIVE: A Cavalcade of Music Stars Pay Homage to the Genius of Brian Wilson for Jameson’s “Brian Fest” (3/30/15)

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Brian Fest
March 30, 2015
The Fonda Theatre
Los Angeles, California

For the last decade, the aptly named Best Fest has brought the work of music legends to the masses through one-night-only benefit concerts. After organizing fests in honor of Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan over the years, it was time to add another icon into the canon. On Monday night, The Cabin Down Below Band (Best Fest’s house band), more than twenty artists, and a sold-out crowd gathered to celebrate the gorgeous music of Brian Wilson—the fragile mastermind behind The Beach Boys.

Artists including Heart’s Ann Wilson (“Warmth of the Sun”), Norah Jones (“God Only Knows”), and Boz Scaggs (“Sail On, Sailor”) shined by staying true to the intricate instrumentation and angelic harmonies of Wilson’s catalog, while others like Devendra Banhart (dressed entirely as a carrot to sing SMiLE deep-cut “Vegetables”) and The Flaming Lips (who played a sinisterly slowed-down version of “Good Vibrations”) took the road less travelled. Even actors like Danny Masterson and Adam Busch (Men at Work) did a spirited rendition of “Be True to Your School”—letterman jacket included.

Some of the night’s most powerful performances came when full groups conjured the camaraderie and power of many golden voices working together as one, including Local Natives (“I Get Around”) and Wilson Phillips’s lovely tribute to members Carny and Wendy’s father (“In My Room”). Bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers floored the audience with its pitch-perfect take on a quiet Wilson masterpiece (“Surf’s Up”).

By the time that Wilson took the stage—along with fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine—the anticipation for his set was palpable. Wilson closed out the show with “Barbara Ann” accompanied by his family, friends, and throngs of devoted fans who wanted nothing more than the opportunity to thank the man whose beloved sound has been synonymous with summer for more than fifty years. FL

Brian Fest performances

“Do It Again” – The Cabin Down Below Band
“Surfin’ Safari” – The 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
“Vegetables” – Devandra Banhart
“Surf’s Up” – 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
“Don’t Worry Baby” – Bethany Cosentino and Al Jardine
“Help Me Rhonda” – Al Jardine
“Good Vibrations” – The Flaming Lips
“Little Bird” – Norah Jones & Gingger Shankar
“God Only Knows” – Norah Jones
“Warmth of the Sun” – Ann Wilson

[grand finale]
“Our Prayer” – The Cabin Down Below Band
“Surfer Girl” – Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Norah Jones, Boz Scaggs
“Fun, Fun, Fun” – Brian Wilson, et al
“Surfin’ USA” – Brian Wilson, et al
“Barbara Ann” – Brian Wilson, et al

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