There’s a great line in the second episode of the first season of “The United States of Tara,” the uncomfortably funny Showtime original series created by “Juno” scribe Diablo Cody. Comedian Patton Oswalt, playing supporting character Neil, is flipping through the newspaper when he remarks to his coworker – and I’m paraphrasing here, as Google has no transcript online – “Look, we can go see the Beach Boys without any Beach Boys.”
It’s one of many witty, memorable zingers from Cody, who has full reign to mock the legendary pop group because, apparently, she’s a big fan of theirs. I am, too, which is why I thought of that gentle-hearted jab when I read in a recent press release that the Beach Boys will be playing Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on New Year’s Eve. Touring these days primarily as a nostalgia act, the legendary pop group has lost all but one of its founding members; only 69-year-old Mike Love still performs as the Beach Boys, having leased the exclusive right to tour under the name.
Of course, the press release announcing the New Year’s Eve show does not include any of this information, but I doubt it would hurt sales too much if it did. As resilient as their timeless songs, the Beach Boys manage to pack posh concert halls least once year in South Florida and around the country, and they continue to give fans reasons to come see them, if only for the guest-star novelty: Back in April at the Kravis Center, TV star John Stamos sang with the group.
But at what point does the current Beach Boys incarnation – which includes studio and tour regular Bruce Johnston plus five backing members, some of whom joined as late as 2007 – become little more than a glorified cover band? One assumes that eventually Love will retire, but I doubt that the Beach Boys moniker will go with it. At that point, Diablo Cody’s sly throwaway joke from “The United States of Tara” will become the falsely advertised reality, at which times it might be wise to rebrand whatever is left of the “Beach Boys” into the reverential descriptor “tribute band.” For now, at least, even though Love is the last Beach Boy standing, he’s still a legitimate Beach Boy. Enjoy him while you can.
Tickets for the New Year’s Eve show are $59 to $99 and are on sale now. Call 800/745-3000.