Friday, September 30, 2016

The Kinks Konspiracy Concert Review

"Sunny Afternoon"
I’ve been a Kinks fan since I was a kid. When I got my drum kit at age thirteen and my friend got his guitar, the first song we ever tackled, as far as I can recall, was “You Really Got Me.” A simple tune, to be sure, but a good one. This was the mid-1980s, and I bought records like Give The People What They Want, State Of Confusion and Word Of Mouth, and listened to them over and over, at fairly ridiculous volumes. Of course, it was Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One that became my favorite, especially “Strangers” and “Apeman.” My passion for this band never decreased over the years. Clearly I’m not the only one who answers the question “Beatles or Stones?” with a resounding “Kinks!” Jay Souza, singer and guitarist of Patrolled By Radar, feels the same way, and he organized a night of Kinks music at The Lost Knight, a bar in Echo Park, featuring his band as well as The Evangenitals, NOCONA, and Tawny Ellis, among others.

I got there early and ordered a Guinness. “Eight dollars,” the bartender said, and I was shocked. He then corrected himself, “Nine, actually.” “Really?” I asked. Was he having me on? Nine dollars for a beer? Holy shit. Well, my first drink of the night was also my last. I’d never in my life paid nine dollars for a beer (ten, with tip), and it felt a bit like being punched in the face, though the bartender was very nice about it. Well, the show was free, so I just hoped that a significant percentage of the bar went to the bands.

The bill included some bands that I love, band I’d seen in concert multiple times, such as Patrolled By Radar and The Evangenitals. There were also some artists that I’d listened to, but hadn’t yet seen perform, such as Tawny Ellis and NOCONA. And then were a few bands I hadn’t heard before, like Livingmore and Kat Myers & The Buzzards (both of those bands are ones I’ll be excited to see do full sets). Each artist or band on the bill was to do two Kinks songs, plus an original if they wished.

At 9:05 p.m., Jay Souza kicked off the evening with a solo set on acoustic guitar, beginning with “Days,” a song The Kinks released in 1968. He followed that with an original tune, “Rally,” one of my personal favorite Patrolled By Radar songs, and wrapped up his opening set with “Set Me Free,” from Kinda Kinks. A good way to start the show, a couple of songs from fairly early in the band’s career. Tawny Ellis followed that with another tune from 1968, “Picture Book.” She also did “Lola,” one of the band’s most famous tunes, and one from my favorite Kinks record, Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One. Yeah, it’s a bit odd hearing a woman sing this one, but Tawny made it work. Folk Riot then did “Destroyer,” a perfect choice to follow “Lola,” because the first line is “Met a girl called Lola and I took her back to my place.” They got the place rocking with that one, and then slid straight into “Till The End Of The Day.”

There was minimal fuss between bands, with each artist not taking too much time to set up. Jay Souza announced the bands and encouraged folks to drink and so on from the sound booth between acts. While Kat Myers & The Buzzards were plugging in, there was a buzz in the monitors and the house, leading the bass player to joke, “We’re the buzzing buzzards.” This was one of the groups I hadn’t heard before, and I became a fan almost immediately. Their first selection was “Complicated Life,” from the 1971 release Muswell Hillbillies, a record that several artists would turn to over the course of the night. They followed that with an absolutely delightful rendition of “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion,” one of the many highlights of the show. Ben Reddell Band also chose a song from Muswell Hillbillies, the fun “Have A Cuppa Tea,” to start their set. They followed it with one of my favorites, “Apeman,” changing the lyrics a bit.

The Evangenitals also chose a track from Muswell Hillbillies, “Alcohol,” with Juli Crockett on banjo and kazoo. This was an absolutely fantastic rendition, another of the show’s highlights. They followed that with an original tune, “Turbulent Flow.” For their second Kinks song, they picked “Black Messiah,” the only song of the night from Misfits, and it was an excellent version, featuring some great stuff on bass. NOCONA then played “Death Of A Clown,” a cool song from Something Else, and their rendition featured pedal steel. NOCONA had a guest drummer filling in. They also did “Got To Be Free,” the closing track from Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround. They did an excellent version, really jamming on it at the end.

As I mentioned earlier (I did mention this earlier, didn’t I?), one of the benefits of the show for me was getting turned on to some bands I hadn’t heard before. I was particularly taken with Livingmore, one of the night’s great surprises. They started with “See My Friends,” a wonderful choice. This is a song the band released as a single in 1965, and is one of my favorites from the early years, sounding quite a bit different from other songs they were releasing at the time. They followed that with “You Really Got Me,” and then an original song, “Really Mean It,” which I loved.

Patrolled By Radar then did a really good version of “Celluloid Heroes,” a song from Everybody’s In Show-Biz, and one that has a bit of a different feel for me now that I’m living in Los Angeles. “This sure is fun,” Jay Souza said after that one. Absolutely! They then did their “Born Thirsty,” followed by an absolutely wonderful rendition of “Waterloo Sunset,” which was another of the night’s highlights. Cashew & Cleary then did “A Well Respected Man,” a song from the 1965 EP Kwyet Kinks (which, by the way, was re-issued during one of the Record Store Days, along with some of the other Kinks EPs). They followed that with a fun version of “Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” also from 1965. (As a side note, Van Halen kicked off the Diver Down album with a cover of that song. That’s another record I listened to a whole hell of a lot in my childhood.) Cashew & Cleary also did an original tune, introducing it as “This is our Kinksiest song.”

Ivory Deville, the final band of the night, was another great surprise. They started with a delightful rendition of “Oklahoma USA,” a song from Muswell Hillbillies, and even played accordion on it (there is accordion on the original version). They followed that with a rousing rendition of “Victoria,” with the crowd singing along. Excellent! Patrolled By Radar then closed out the night with “Sunny Afternoon,” with most of the other bands joining them on vocals. This was such a great night of music.

Here are some photos from the night:

Jay Souza performing "Days"
Tawny Ellis performing "Picture Book"
Folk Riot performing "Destroyer"
Kat Myers And The Buzzards performing "Complicated Life"
Ben Reddell Band performing "Apeman"
The Evangenitals performing "Alcohol"
NOCONA performing "Got To Be Free"
Livingmore performing "See My Friends"
Patrolled By Radar performing "Celluloid Heroes"
Cashew And Cleary performing "A Well Respected Man"
Ivory Deville performing "Oklahoma USA"
Jay Souza mentioned the possibility of a second Kinks night at some point. Let me just get in my requests now: “Strangers,” “This Time Tomorrow” and “Low Budget.” One more thing. Last night I made an important discovery: Women who are into The Kinks are hot. Just saying.