The Minks: Ray Davies Never Looked Better

The Minks

Great American Music Hall

San Francisco, CA

December 3, 2008

The Minks: Ray Davies Never Looked Better

The Minks blew the doors off the Great American Music Hall last night. OK, maybe not the doors, they’re pretty good doors. Strong doors, with bouncers. But the windows were definitely rattling. The Minks are rock stars, that’s for sure. At a benefit for music in schools, called Silicon Valley Rocks, the Minks thrilled the geeky Wednesday night crowd. Since all the bands had some connection to Silicon Valley, the audience hipster-geek factor was streaming broadband. I’ve never seen so many iPhones or so many Google employees in one place. The only complaint I have is that with multiple geek bands playing, the cool Minks were limited to about 30 minutes.

While the Minks call themselves an all-girls Kinks cover band, they are more in the category of a tribute band. “Cover" bands play songs by more than one artist, with no original material; while "tribute" acts play only one artist. Many tribute bands foolishly try to emulate the look as well as the sound of their rock heroes, wearing wigs and glasses to look like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones; or in the extreme impersonation world, plastic surgery, to look like Cher or Michael Jackson. Thankfully, the Minks only make a nod to the original look of the Kinks by wearing 1960s mod outfits- which renders them much more pleasing on the eye than the Kinks ever were. The Minks look like they stepped right off the set of the latest Austin Powers flick. I was left wondering why all bands can’t be hot chicks in short skirts and go-go boots.

However, playing only Kinks songs is a somewhat limiting factor for the world-domination aspirations of the Minks or if they really want that cruise ship gig. While Ray Davies was undoubtedly one of rock's great song-writers, the Kinks’ hits were largely minor affairs on Billboard. After "Girl You Really Got Me" (which achieved most of its fame through other artists) and the anthemic "Lola," the Kink's most well known hit is the sing-songy "Come Dancing" which is largely mired in rock history as a nostalgic early video hit for MTV (which demonstrates how far videos have come and how low MTV has sunk). The Minks do perform a stellar version of "She's Got Everything" which I feel is ripe for an update. I see it as a possible hit for Letters to Cleo for a teen romance movie soundtrack like 10 Things I Hate About You or Pretty in Pink.

Being an all-girls Kinks cover (tribute) band is a difficult balance. If you practice too much and sound too professional, you lose the raw do-it-yourself excitement of the original Kinks sound and if you don't practice enough, you risk sounding amateurish. Fortunately, the Minks have struck just the right balance maintaining the raw energy of the Kinks without sounding like professional musicians slumming it. A good bar band should drop a note or two, especially one playing the Kinks. The Minks have it just about right.

Special credit: First two photos by award-winning photographer Joe Santel.

Last photo by Dave Le.