If the Kinks circa 1967 had been zany rather than melancholic -- and, by the way, Japanese -- they would have sounded much like Elekibass, the Tokyo quartet that delighted the crowd at DC9 on Wednesday night. The four top-hatted musicians rarely restricted themselves to the stage. They paraded around the club clad in capes and masks, launched a mid-audience singalong accompanied by clouds of soap bubbles and led onlookers in a wave-and-jump dance routine.

Much of the band's stage business could have been lifted from a kiddie show, but guitarist Junpei Kameda also lampooned macho-rock crowd surfing by insisting that some of his new fans carry him high above their heads, a bit that ended with his playing a short solo while still held in midair.

Musically, Elekibass drew mostly on late-'60s British rock's mix of bluesy rhythms, music-hall melody and psychedelic whimsy. At first, it seemed the similarity to the Kinks was merely a coincidence. But a tune that frontman Yoichi Sakamoto introduced as a rumba soon revealed itself as a cousin to that band's "Picture Book," and the set crested with a cover of "Skin and Bone," a song from the Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies."

Sakamoto and his cohorts playfully replaced that album's old-timey horn section with kazoos -- sometimes played by members of the audience -- but their admiration for the original was evident. It's just that Elekibass replaced the Kinks' "Dead End Street" with a yellow-brick road.

-- Mark Jenkins