It’s hard to think of a more worthy subject of a Best Fest tribute show than the Beach Boy Brian Wilson. He has blessed us with so much good music that there should be a tribute for him every single year. Many years ago, as a teenager, I heard my mom hum “Don’t Worry Baby” and I instantly got hooked. I would always sing it during family occasions where out karaoke machine were put to very good use. It came out before I was even born, but it was hard not to love. Generally, I find that charm consistently inherent in Wilson’s music both during and post Beach Boys. I listened to his new single with Zooey Deschanel the other day and it’s still stuck in my head.
The Best Fest never fails to present its supporters with a banging line up and they do it for a great cause with the help of Jameson Whiskey to support Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. The organization provides aid to musicians in need of medical and financial assistance. They’ve been doing this for years with Stones Fest, Petty Fest, George Fest, and finally, Brian Fest.
He is so well-loved that it was hard not to feel at least a little sentimental last Monday. From Norah Jones’ amazing performance of the best song ever, “God Only Knows” to the Punch Brothers’ flawless version of “Surfs Up”, the show overflowed with ridiculous talent backed by house band The Cabin Down Below. The talented trio Wilson Phillips performed an understated version of “In My Room” which surely made their father proud. Blondie Chaplin was just unbelievable with “Wild Honey” and Al Jardine displayed a special kind of spark with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino for “Don’t Worry Baby”. The Flaming Lips did a rather experimental rendition of “Good Vibrations” while Devendra Banhart with Greg Roove and Rodrigo Amarante came out dressed as vegetables for “Vegetables”. Local Natives, Joy Williams, Sebu Simonian, Doyle, Ann Wilson, M. Ward, Boz Scaggs, Gingger Shankar, and Karen Elson also played.
Not everyone realized this, but Wilson patiently sat near the side of the stage more than an hour prior to the start of the show. He had just come from Capitol Studios to meet some lucky fans. He stayed there the entire time until it was his turn to take the stage at around 11PM. In an industry filled with divas and big egos, it’s incredibly remarkable and inspiring to me the level of professionalism and patience that the 72-year-old legend exuded, and it proved how much the whole thing meant to him. Thank you for everything, Brian Wilson. And we do love you.