On Tuesday evening Dave Davies, guitarist/founder of the legendary British rock n roll band The Kinks, performed a free show behind the City Winery venue in NYC as part of the 5th Annual Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival ’13. An estimated 1,000 people showed up to see and hear Dave play guitar and sing his classic hits as well as newly recorded songs.
When I arrived at the venue around 5:30pm it was already packed. It was general standing admission and the demographic of the crowd spanned from older folks who surely grew up in the heyday of The Kinks to younger people who were eager to witness a true rock star. The backyard area is very spacious so people were free to move around if they chose to. I myself decided to get as close to the stage as possible for at least the first couple of songs then fell back and soaked in the atmosphere for the latter half.
The band took the stage with their instruments before Mr. Davies came out to a hollering crowd and picked up his guitar. They wasted no time in getting the party started with an opening number that was unfamiliar to most but nonetheless got us amped up. The next song sounded like a classic 1960’s Kinks song because of the chord progression and that familiar loud distorted guitar sound Davies has come to trademark. His voice, in my opinion, sounded a bit rough and he did apologize for clearing his throat after impressively holding a note, but he is 66 years old and still rocking, so I can’t complain. After a couple of songs Davies announced that he had a new album coming out that day titled I Will Be Me and told the crowd that if we hadn't gotten it, why not!?
During this brief commentary break I decided to enjoy the rest of the show from the back. Davies and his band continued to mix up the set list with 2+ minute rock songs and sweet relaxing ballads. In a few of the shorter songs Davies would walk away from the mic stand to rip out some heavily fuzzed solos and riffs. Being a loud band with distortion driven instruments I found the sound coming from the speakers on both ends of the stage to be clearer and more pleasant to my ears from a distance. There was also more free space to move about and shuffle my feet to the music.
Davies played for roughly an hour before taking the stage once again for an encore (the audience demanded it!) and if I heard correctly, I believe a member of the roots rock band The Jayhawks came out to share vocal duties for a song. Davies then ended the show properly with everyone’s favorite, and the band’s most recognized song, "You Really Got Me". He showed genuine affection and gratitude as he exited the stage and thanked everybody for coming. He announced that a small table would be set up by the stage if people wanted to purchase the new album and he would be hanging out there to greet fans and sign their purchases.
Tuesday’s free show was the first of many to come this summer. They are being put on by City Winery and are known as the After Work Backyard Party. Delicious food (try the hot dogs with fixins!) and beverages/beer are served. The shows are all ages and run every Tuesday from 5:00-7:30pm until August 27th. I definitely intend to hit up more of these shows as the artists they have scheduled look impressive. To see who’s playing and for more information check out The City Winery official website.