Make sure you have a surfboard today, because Chautauqua is going to be “Surfin’ U.S.A.”
The Beach Boys last performed at Chautauqua Institution in 2017, and the group — with original vocalist Mike Love and Bruce Johnston — returns to the grounds at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, August 21 in the Amphitheater.
The year was 1962; the place, Hawthorne, California. Three brothers, Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson; their cousin Mike Love; and friend Al Jardine formed The Beach Boys, which has presented its tight vocal harmonies with varying members ever since. Born as The Pendletones in a California garage-rock style, The Beach Boys released their first album, Surfin’ Safari, in 1962.
With the elements of founder and multi-instrumentalist Brian Wilson, the band went on to release monumentally acclaimed records, including Surfer Girl, and their 1966 Pet Sounds, the latter of which was ranked as the second-best album of all time by Rolling Stone.
Reflecting on The Beach Boys’ evolution of sound and Brian Wilson’s role in the band’s style, Love told Rolling Stone in 2018 that the beauty of The Beach Boys is in its diverse capabilities.
“One of the things about The Beach Boys’ music — and probably because Brian is a Gemini — is that everything is different from the last one,” Love said. “It’s not just a copy of a former single. That was the beauty of The Beach Boys catalog — the diversity: Different lead singers, different tempos, different keys, different arrangements and chord progressions. Nobody was more masterful at chord progressions than Brian — and the harmonies.”
Now more than 50 years into its expansive career, the band continues to put out music, briefly reuniting with Brian Wilson in 2012 for a tour and the 2012 studio album That’s Why God Made the Radio, which brought together the surviving members of the group.
With the band’s sound and message embroidered into the tapestry of the American ethos, it’s easy to understand The Beach Boys’ popularity. Anthemic songs like “God Only Knows,” or earworms such as “Wouldn’t It be Nice,” are timeless classics that never age past the day they were first played.
Over the years, The Beach Boys have amassed a number of accolades, including a 1988 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.
So get ready, Chautauqua, because The Beach Boys are bringing some good vibrations to the Amp tonight, and everyone is invited to join in the celebration.