While many of these tribute shows can run the gamut of styles and genres -- the Bob Dylan tribute show incorporated folk, blues, R&B, soul, country, rock 'n' roll and more -- make no mistake: this was a rock show.
Ten local bands and one solo performer mined the Kinks catalog. With so many nuggets to choose from, the song selection was superb and pulled material from 15 albums spanning the years from 1964 - 1984. The bulk of the songs were from the Kinks' apex, 1966 - 1970, with four tracks from "Face to Face," four from "Something Else by the Kinks," eight from "Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society," three from "Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)" and six from "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One."
Burrowss kicked off the night with an energetic "Top of the Pops," which got the crowd gyrating from the first power chords. They followed it up with "Low Budget" from 1979's "Low Budget," then ending the set with an earlier one from 1965, "Set Me Free."
Kinks songs can be depressing if you really listen to the lyrics and know the back story. The guys didn't get along, problems with the music business, lawyers, depression, etc. Musically the songs can sound sad. But for all the negativity one could attach to the Kinks, there's still the feeling that Ray Davies was rising above it all.
The songs might be full of sadness at times, but they were delivered with a smirk or a wink or with outright humor. Special guest Jimmy Griffin from the Incurables picked two songs that were performed acoustically. The Kinks had many a thematic record in their day, and you could say Jimmy's set of two songs was thematic. "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" from "Low Budget" and "Johnny Thunder" from "Village Green."
Up next Melody Den rocked out on "The Hard Way" from "Schoolboys in Disgrace" and from "Muswell Hillbillies" "20th Century Man." Between the two was the wonderfully nostalgic "Celluloid Heroes."
Prune, who provided the Kinks logo for the drum head used throughout the evening, got four short ones that were all great sing-a-long numbers, including the evening title song, "Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy" from 1965, "Sunny Afternoon" from '66, "Starstruck" from '68 and "Apeman" from 1970.
Next was Estevan. The band really swung on the three songs that were all from '68-'70. The crowd roared its approval on selection after selection throughout the evening and "Victoria," "Picture Book" and "Lola." Somebody had to do the latter which is one of the most covered of all Kinks tunes, and they did a great job. It stuck pretty close to the original arrangement. Some songs are just better left as is.
The Aviation Club revealed one of the more restrained songs of the night, "Big Sky" from Lola, then the gorgeous "This Is Where I Belong" and then brought the tempo back up with "Drivin'" and "The Contenders."
My vote for the least-known-songs-in-a-set-for-the-evening would be the one by the Educated Guess which included the evening's "newest" song: "Massive Reductions" from 1984's "Word of Mouth" album. The band also tackled "Tin Soldier Man" from "Something Else" and "A House in the Country" from 1966's "Face to Face," while the best known from the least-known set was the sardonic "David Watts" also from "Something Else." The band's horn section contributed a freshness to the performance.
Old Lights were another band that captured the wit, the cynicism and the sarcasm of the Kinks' music. Their choices for their set were "Strangers" from "Lola," "Village Green Preservation Society," a beautiful reading of "Waterloo Sunset" from "Something Else" and "Mountain Woman" one of two tracks from '71's "Muswell Hillbillies."
The Blind Eyes charged their way through "You Can't Win," "Do You Remember Walter" and "Two Sisters," and then added, just before they closed out with "Brainwashed," "Feels like we're just getting warmed up."
The evening was nearing the end with only two bands left and you knew "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" had to be coming up soon. Well, they were both found in the set by Picture Day, a late-ish addition when one of the bands was unable to make the show. The group nailed those two songs along with "Days" and "Powerman." That would have sufficed for the closing finale.
It's worth noting that the Kinks never really sported a squeaky clean or polished sound. The edges were left a bit ragged, the harmonies were ever so slightly off-key. All that added to the charm. All of these bands -- maybe by design, maybe not by design -- captured that charm. If you polished these songs up too much you are doing them a disservice.
All the bands did such a great job of interpreting these rock 'n' roll classics, sticking close to the originals, but still managing to infuse enough of themselves into them. The last band of the night, the Nevermores infused themselves into the songs from their set -- it didn't hurt that much of their own music is drenched in an early Kinks vibe. They tore into "I Need You," "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," "Wicked Annabella," and then closed it all out with a smoking "Till the End of the Day."
The crowd pleaded to have one more, so they pulled out a Kinks-like Sorrows song that sent everybody happily home.