Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Saturday April 1, 2006
Wild Wing Cafe - Athens, GA
(with Sun Domingo)


Welcome to one of my least favorite shows ever. We played fine. We had some good friends there who we haven't seen for a while and we introduced a new song that I really love. None of that was enough to overcome the "atmosphere" of the venue. I can honestly say that I have no intention to ever play at a Wild Wing Cafe again. It was always an iffy place but when I heard they upgraded their soundsystem, stage and lights, I figured it was time to give it another chance. WRONG! It's all worse now. The venue looks better but it just sucks for live rock and roll and I want no part of it anymore. To top it off, it had just been a difficult day all around. Add that to this and you get an open rehearsal, lackluster performance that I'd just as soon forget.

Even though we were told we'd get a soundcheck, they didn't give us one. The soundman (Blake) was nice enough but he had to play by the club rules. So I went up and announced that this would be soundcheck and we did "Sometimes I'm Sam" just to check levels. Well, it sounded dull, flat and lifeless - that is, what could be heard. I could barely hear me or Frank at all and it was still alledgedly too loud (Then why do you have live bands here?). Screw it. We got on with it and "opened" with a perfect version of "Into My View" that we then successfully slid into "Creepy Jackalope Eye" which I don't think we've played in the better part of a year. It was good to have that one back, too. And even more interesting to do it right up top. It felt good and while the eyebrows were relatively lacking at this point (having to strain to make out what's going on will do that), there was a little startup energy still running through us.

Next, we re-introduced "I Know Too Much" for the first time since last summer. This lineup does a great version of it. Too bad there were so few interested parties to hear its return. I think Mike does a great job on this one - even if he missed the opening cue into "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something." It was nice to shake up the set list but the truth is, I know all of these new songs that we've got backlogged and I know how great they are. I want to start doing more of them and as cool as "Someone's Trying" is at a high energy show, it was a waste here. The new arrangement of "It's Never The Same" followed. The changes are basically an extended ending where Mike and I take turns going stupid. It's fun and I think pretty darn powerful. Of course, for its live debut it was watered down by a lame mix and neither Mike nor I could cut loose as we were again just trying to hear what was going on. Still - I'm glad we're starting to become something other.

By now I had given up on converting anyone or doing anything other than getting through the gig. It's sad but true. We tried to juice 'em with "I Won't Stand Still" and "Phony" but if you get aggressive in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, was it really aggressive? Dunno. The highlight for me tonight was introducing our dancey new tune "Waiting For The Siren". I've been loving the groove of it and it shows off each of our individual strengths well. Each of us shines on this one (even if Mike's job is easy - it just sounds so good). I even saw a drunk frat boy begin shaking his tail-feather in front of the bar. Tonight, that was our greatest measure of success. Amanda later said that it would've been great if she could've heard the lyrics. I'm glad I didn't know that was missing while I was doing it. I segued that into "Scared Of Myself" which got one of the stongest responses in a night with very little ("Thank you for that APPLAUD" seems apropos.) So again, I thought "screw it, let's just get this over with and let Sun Domingo get up here so we can at least have some fun listening to them". We pulled out the obligatory "Towel Cape" and attempted unsuccessfully to segue into "Give Up Town" as Mike couldn't hear the cues. "Taking Its Toll" wasn't supposed to be our last song tonight but I leaned over to the guys early in the song and just said "This is it." Good thing, too, 'cause during the final part of the solo I busted a string. It didn't matter. I covered it just fine. No one even noticed except me apparently but I couldn't have moved to the next song without switching guitars and there was no point in that tonight. So we said our good nights and got off that stage as soon as possible. I even decided to try some of 'dem 'dere wings since I'll probably never go back in there.


Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Sometimes I'm Sam ***
2. Into My View ****
3. Creepy Jackalope Eye ****
4. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good) ****
5. Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something ***
6. It's Never The Same ***
7. I Won't Stand Still ****
8. Phony ****
9. Waiting For The Siren (N) ****
10. Scared Of Myself ****
11. Towel Cape Song ****
12. Give Up Town ***
13. Taking Its Toll ****


Well, at least I got to see the Sun Domingo boys again. Not only that, I spent a little time chatting with Edgel Sr. before the appearance by the prodigal Darling. None other than Tom showed up to see Sun Domingo as well. He had his new bandmate Andrew Nelson with him. He looked good, seemed happy and during the brief time I chatted with him, I remembered quickly just how much we had in common and what a shame it was that it didn't work out with him being in the band. 'Twas his decision, though and I couldn't make him stay so I hope HE feels like he made the right decision. At least that'd be one of us! That being said, in some ways it is freeing to play with Mike because I can write any drum part or even just make a loose suggestion and Mike can not only pick up instantly but he can nail it everytime. Musically, I stand by the fact that the band's better than ever now - but chemistry wise, I had it long enough to know what's missing now.

I enjoyed hearing Sun Domingo play to their friends like we did. I took some pics of 'em, too. Unfortunately, I had packed up my camera before Tom got on stage to sing Big Star's "Back Of A Car" with 'em. Not long after we got out there but not before we heard Sun Domingo do a cool version of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla." I still prefer them doing their own songs but I'll never fault them for choosing the easy route with covers. They tackle the monsters and subdue them nicely. Good seeing you all again. Let's do it again with no Wild Wings...


Photos by Amanda Stahl.