The Beach Boys at Wolf Trap

Nostalgic Fun for all Generations: The Beach Boys at Wolf Trap

Great music and good weather brought audiences out in droves to Wolf Trap for an unforgettable afternoon with the iconic band, The Beach Boys last night. The sold-out performance was the hottest ticket in town for this eclectic audience. From the littlest “Surfer Girl” to the “Fun, Fun, Fun” – loving boomers, the show had something for everyone.

The Beach Boys are one of the defining bands in American pop music and pioneers of the ‘California Sound’ that captured the innocence of American teen-hood of the time. Drawing on early rock-and-roll, jazz, and doo-wop influences, their upbeat lyrics and stunning multi-part harmonies came to define their signature style. Eighty of these Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ singles made the charts worldwide, thirty-six of which made the American top-forty.

The Beach Boys. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
The Beach Boys. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The band features Mike Love and Bruce Johnston supported by Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, Randell Kirsch, Jeffrey Foskett, and Scott Totten.

The high-energy show began with “Surfin!” which kicked off an amazing forty-two-song set. While the band played some of their greatest hits including “Catch A Wave” and “Surfin’ Safari,” a screen above them scrolled retro images of bathing beauties, classic cars, and So-Cal surfers. The screen was also used to show video, which at one point poignantly screened footage of late, great, Carl Wilson, singing “God Only Knows” while the band accompanied him below.

Other highlights of the afternoon included lively performances of “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” and “Help Me Rhonda,” which brought the audience to their feet, while songs like “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” and the “Ballad of Ole Betsy” allowed them to reminisce about the first taste of freedom behind the wheel of a car.

The middle of the show was given “A little more gravitas…” Beach Boy, Mike Love, told the audience, “…with a song inspired by people in uniform.” As he said it, a picture of George Mason University Cheerleader appeared on the screen above him. “A Cheerleading uniform.” Love said, as they launched into a spirited version their hit “Be True to Your School” to the delight of the crowd (especially any GMU Patriots in the stands).

“Don’t Worry Baby” was another audience favorite, and also used video to screen perfectly-synced television footage of The Beach Boys playing the song upon it’s first release in 1964. “Surfer Girl” inspired a few romantic couples to dance cheek-to-cheek while being serenaded by the band.

Whether you lived through the sixties, or just wish you had, the music of The Beach Boys is an experience to be had, and to be shared with all generations.

Running Time: 2 hours, with no intermission.

The Beach Boys played for one afternoon only on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts– 1635 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. To see a list of upcoming events at Wolf Trap and to purchase tickets, click here.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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Samantha Macher
Samantha Macher is a theater artist, filmmaker, and graduate of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. Since beginning her career in 2011, she had over 40 productions of her written work both in the US and abroad, and is the winner of a StageSceneLA “Best World Premiere Play” for "War Bride" in 2012. Notable productions include "The Arctic Circle *and a recipe for Swedish Pancakes" directed by Bob Moss (founder of Playwrights Horizons) in 2012, and various performances of “To the New Girl...” (2012-2015) including several to benefit domestic abuse and family service centers in her home state of Virginia. Her play "Reset" was a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Award (2015), and her award-winning film "Last Pyramid" (2015) was accepted into several festivals and has helped in the fundraising and awareness raising efforts for the mission of the Epilepsy Foundation. She is currently a playwright-in-residence for SkyPilot Theatre Company in Los Angeles. To read more of her work, please find her on the New Play Exchange, contact Original Works, Smith and Kraus, and YouthPLAYS publishing companies, or visit her website


  1. I also attended the Beach Boys concert at Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, VA on Aug 23, 2015 and concur that it was a good time! I’m a casual fan since the mid-1960s when I spent three of my preteen years in Southern California at the height of the Beach Boys popularity. I’d never seen them live before. I went to this show with an open mind, but a slightly skeptical attitude about the quality of performance I’d see from an “oldies group”. The weather was super nice for a 3PM show in August and the concert way exceeded my expectations.

    The Beach Boys played a fun, 42 song set that masterfully built momentum over two non-stop hours. A nostalgic slide show was displayed behind the band the entire time. For this performance the band consisted of nine musicians including three Beach Boys from the 1960s: Mike Love (lead vocalist and driving Beach Boys force), Bruce Johnston and David Marks. I didn’t expect David Marks to appear with the band on this tour and his guitar work contributed to the authentic 60’s surf-guitar sound of this line-up. They covered tons of hits, some deep cuts, and three tribute songs to Carl Wilson, Denis Wilson, and George Harrison (a friend of Mike Love’s).

    I think the key to why this concert was so good was the excellent synergy between old and “new” members of the band. The new guys are actually veteran and excellent musicians, just not original Beach Boys. They included Jeff Foskett doing crucial high falsetto vocals on many tunes, Scott Totten as music director and lead guitarist, John Cowsill (from ‘60s singing group The Cowsills) on drums and others who I don’t know, but were also good. Most of the newer members were excellent vocalists and very ably filled in where the old guys needed help including numerous lead vocal turns, yet always staying close to the original Beach Boys sound.

    The band played pretty much all the big hits except In My Room, which is closely identified with Brian Wilson. All Beach Boys fans know the relationship between Mike Love and Brian Wilson is a little touchy and it’s possible Mike’s band doesn’t play that one out of deference to Brian. My concert highlights were Surfer Girl, Don’t Worry Baby, the medley of hot rod songs, Help Me Rhonda, Good Vibrations, and God Only Knows which featured a video tribute of the late Carl Wilson singing lead while the group on stage accompanied him. A couple of lesser known songs I really enjoyed were Please Let Me Wonder and When I Grow Up to be a Man. Were we ever so innocent?

    I’d love to see the band in its 50th Anniversary configuration from 2012 that also included surviving original members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. But I give credit to Mike Love and company for keeping the Beach Boys sound authentic and spirited with this current line-up . The concert closed appropriately with Fun Fun Fun and it was!

    I got this set list from googling the Internet and it looks correct or very close to correct:
    2. Catch a Wave
    3. It’s OK
    4. Don’t Back Down
    5. Little Honda
    6. Do It Again
    7. Goin’ to the Beach
    8. Surfin’ Safari
    9. Surfer Girl
    10. Farmer’s Daughter
    11. Good to My Baby
    12. You’re So Good to Me
    13. Please Let Me Wonder
    14. Kiss Me, Baby
    15. Getcha Back
    (David Marks on lead vocals)
    16. I’m So Young
    (The Students cover)
    17. Why Do Fools Fall in Love
    (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers cover)
    18. When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)
    19. Darlin’
    20. Be True to Your School
    21. Don’t Worry Baby
    22. Little Deuce Coupe
    23. 409
    24. Shut Down
    25. I Get Around
    26. Ballad of Ole’ Betsy
    27. Sloop John B
    28. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
    29. Then He Kissed Me
    (The Crystals cover)
    30. California Girls
    31. Dance, Dance, Dance
    32. Let Him Run Wild
    33. God Only Knows
    (tribute to Carl Wilson)
    34. Pisces Brothers
    (Mike Love song, George Harrison tribute)
    35. Good Vibrations
    36. Do You Wanna Dance?
    (Bobby Freeman cover)
    37. All Summer Long
    38. Help Me, Rhonda
    39. Barbara Ann
    (The Regents cover)
    40. Surfin’ U.S.A.
    41. Kokomo
    42. Fun, Fun, Fun


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