Wendy & Carnie Wilson, and Chynna Phillips
Nineties nostalgia is in vogue at the State Fair’s bandshell.
Last year, it was Boyz II Men, who packed ‘em in. This year, it’s Wilson Phillips.
Boosted by a pivotal wedding scene in last year’s sensational movie “Bridesmaids,” Wilson Phillips drew an overflow crowd to the bandshell Friday, for its first of two nights.
After the first song, Carnie Wilson felt compelled to make a food comment. Naturally. Something about eating a deep-fried Twinkie that caused her to levitate. All night long, Carnie yakked away like she was still hosting a TV talk show. (She’s not. Wilson Phillips do have their own reality show, though, on TV Guide network.)
Her sister, Wendy Wilson, said little, and Chynna Phillips babbled all the biographical stuff about who their parents were (Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys for the Wilson girls, Michelle and John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas in her case), which artists influenced them, when they recorded this song, how they used to sing together as kids, blah, blah, blah.
What about the music? Well, there’s a reason I didn’t mention that right away. This trio that scored three No. 1 pop hits in the ‘90s came across like a cover band. They did four tunes by the Beach Boys, two by the Mamas & the Papas, one each by the Eagles, ABBA and Elton John. Wilson Phillips also spent 10 minutes introducing their five backup musicians, none of whom took solos during the intros and one of whom is Carnie’s husband and “the best dad.” That left room for, I think, four Wilson Phillips originals.
OK, time to discuss their singing. The harmonies were sweet, for the most part, but the lead vocals wouldn’t have won any prizes for Phillips or Wendy Wilson at the state fair talent show. Haven’t these life-long music bizzers heard of AutoTune?
“Hold On,” their signature hit that was featured in “Bridesmaids,” was saved to the end of the 85-minute set. It sounded crisp, full and fun – and as if there were some kind of technological vocal enhancements.
Wilson Phillips performs again at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the bandshell. It’s free with fair admission.
Afterwards, I caught a couple of tunes from Prior Avenue, a local horn-driven R&B band that lacks the pedigree and polish of Wilson Phillips but they were tight and soulful. They may be casually dressed (cargo shorts and flip flops) but they are worth checking out when they return to the Farmers Union Building from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday.