Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Tuesday April 3, 2007
(Opening for "Arch Madness" Battle Of The Bands)

Caledonia Lounge
Athens, GA

Pre-show, the place was absolutely deserted. It is Tuesday in Athens , after all. I talked to whoever was around. Tyler (who interviewed us for UGA Magazine last week) showed up with his camera. He's becoming a good friend to the band and he's doing it in record time. He's great to have around and he's very helpful to boot!

Mike, the soundman, had it all down tight by the time we got onstage to play. We had been told to start later and play longer than last night so we didn't get to do the "second half" to the previous night's set. We instead opened again with "The Only Way" and "Sometimes I'm Sam". I was wired and full of that nervous rock and roll energy. Instead of being a bad thing, it pushed me much higher than yesterday. The eyebrows were on. And when I saw a whole line of people starting to come closer to the stage, I prodded 'em on with the promise of rock 'n' roll. Before I knew it, they were leaning against the stage.

Then things become a bit of a blur. I was sweating (rare for me), it was hot and we were tearing the place apart. We ripped into "I Won't Stand Still" which merely served as the appetizer for "Phony". I honestly don't know if it's ever been done that tightly. We've had a lot of great performances of it but this one was right up there. Since my whammy pedal isn't in commission right now, I had to do the pitch bend manually. I didn't quite nail it tonight but now I know that using a mic stand will emulate it and may even sound stronger than the way we did it before.

We were supposed to perform "Tonight Never Happened" for the first time in this set. Since Amanda and Jonathan couldn't make it (and I know how much they wanted to hear it), we decided to save it for another day (Pun may be intended). Instead, we went back to "Sadder Day". Tonight wasn't nearly as good as last night for this song. Last night (as I said) was a listening show. This was a LEAPING show. I know I hit my one foul note of the night early in this tune. Joe made fun of me a bit (which I deserved) but karma got him back when he got ahead of himself on the end harmony. I don't think anyone there knew but us. We covered it and recovered from it perfectly. Still, we knew.

Next up was "Waiting For The Siren". I love this song. This is one that we've only just begun to capture for REAL. Before we did it, I made some rambling speech about my guilty pleasure / love of disco rock which I was surprised to see several people in the audience say "Me too!". So we pulled out our attempt at the style. Everything was going great. I nailed the solo (mostly one handed - watch out, Prince) and then for the final choruses, Frank disappeared. Well, at least his bass did. We kept on going. I changed the line once to "Waiting for the bass rig". We laughed it off and by the end, it was back in gear and working fine.

The line of people up front was more supportive than I've had for this band in a long time. They screamed and shouted. When I would pogo a bit, so would they. It was very cool and kind of strange (especially at a venue like the Caledonia ). It was equal parts guys and girls and a couple of ethnicities to boot. We seem to be translating.

If you don't believe me from that, let me add this. During the final solo, I flicked a couple of guitar picks out into the crowd. I also took the solo from a speaker cabinet thrust in front of the stage. While it was happening, I was nearly surrounded by people, many of whom were swaying with their cell phones waving and shining over their heads. For the very end of it, I even saw people singing along with the "lay down" bit just as nature (or at least O'Gorman and I) intended. I'm a well-known cheese ball and therefore, this was much appreciated. We slid "Toll" into "Give Up Town" and while I heard some bad notes in this one, it was alright. After all,  this was a leaping show and not a listening show. Joe even popped in between Frank and I for the triple harmony ending (how very BOC!).

Caledonia Lounge - April 3, 2007

(Totally biased star reviews)

1. The Only Way****
2. Sometimes I'm Sam****
3. I Won't Stand Still*****
4. Phony*****
5. Sadder Day***
6. Waiting For The Siren**
7. Taking Its Toll***
8. Give Up Town****

When we ended, I couldn't get my stuff off of the stage due to all of the people trying to shake my hand. I never thought that would happen to me at the Caledonia of all places! But it did. Bruce Burch, the head of the UGA music department, was even amongst the hands. It was great to see him. He was teasing me a bit about being so quiet off stage and such a rocker when I'm on. But hey, I've gotta get it out somehow, right?

It was good to see Justin out there too. He was apparently walking by and thought that it sounded like us. So despite the fact that we weren't officially on the bill, he came around and found us there acting like what we are (I'll leave you to say what that is).

Before leaving, I had to sign a few autographs. I wish I'd had my own pen as the one presented to me wasn't quite doing its job and I prefer an audacious John Hancock when possible. But again, I simply couldn't get over the fact that I was signing autographs at the Caledonia . What a weird feeling.

If only I'd had the presence of mind to bring the mailing list in. Those people are the kind of audience we need. I hope they like the CD's, visit the sites, see this and know how thankful I am that they were there tonight.

Photos by April Orr and Robert Tyler Goforth (as indicated).