Nostalgia for the 1960s isn't what it used to be. This summer's concert schedule has only a smattering of golden era bands who try hard, but can’t compete with the records or old TV shows where they are younger and prettier. Some of them are still hanging in there, with upcoming performances by the latest iteration of the Animals, July 17, and by the Beach Boys, August 6. Both shows are in the Snoqualmie Casino's amphitheater, since casinos have long been the venue of choice for these shows.
Despite all the changes, the latest editions of these bands still sound great, performing with energy and passion. Authenticity is another matter, since each band has just one original member still in the fold. In both cases it is the lead singer, who can still hit the notes with a recognizable voice: Mike Love from the Beach Boys and Animal Eric Burdon. If you have just one original member, it's much better to stick with the lead singer than the drummer or the bassist.
Back in the 60s, when a new Beatles album came out people either thought that it was brilliant or they kept their mouth shut. Instead they expressed themselves through their second favorite band, which said more about a person's personality than their astrological sign. Someone who favored the Beach Boys liked smooth harmonies and simple anthems of joy. They liked to drive and to swim and most times listened to their parents or at least pretended to. Animals fans were louder and more ornery, likely to wear deliberately mismatched socks or talk in class.
But people and tastes change, and today the music of both bands has been lumped into the “nostalgia” pile. To some ears, “House of the Rising Sun” and “Surfin’ USA” come from the same source. Still, look closely and the differences are still clear: Beach Boys fans seek an experience that exactly matches what they remember and catapults them into a happier time. These cheerful sounds allow them to forget the intervening years, as they take the opportunity to revel in food, family and sunshine. If the weather cooperates.
Animals fans also seek to recapture the past, but not for some forsaken optimism. They want to recall the times where they snuck a cigarette in the school’s john and poked fun at Beach Boys fans who were unfortunate enough to interrupt them. They still like to mix things up, and don’t necessarily want to hear the songs the same old way. The Animals' music originated in the blues, where the worst thing that could possibly happen usually does. This was one thing when you were a kid, but takes on a completely different meaning after you turn 60. Though there are no solid statistics, where Animals fans are scraping by, and have been fired a few times for a bad attitude, modern Beach Boys fans seem to have more grandchildren, regularly serve on volunteer committees and retired from jobs they held for 20 years or more.
These days, the task of keeping popular rock bands alive is common. In most older bands, if the founders are still alive and speaking to each other, chances are good that they can't play anymore — if they ever could. So they place their remaining original member front and center to be surrounded by a cadre of capable "ringers," and the band plays the songs in ways that are close to the original, but different enough to keep the audience and/or the musicians from dying of boredom.
Coincidentally, both the Beach Boys and the Animals pioneered the ringer concept. In 1964 Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson decided he hated touring and recruited a sound-alike/ look-alike of himself so that the audience didn't know the difference. Since then only party poopers have noticed that Wilson isn't on stage, even as the original members disappeared one at a time and were replaced by ringers.
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