Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Tuesday April 10, 2007
(With Great Society and others...)

University Of Georgia Campus
Athens, GA

Well, we braved the pollen, the fire of broad daylight and the droppings from a tree over our heads for yet another performance this afternoon.

Due to some scheduling issues, we wound up going on much, MUCH later than we had planned but it was cool. Our friend Allison Weiss was opening up and it was good to listen to her while we pulled things together. She was also our personal savior today as she provided the P.A. and helped us immensely with set up. Miss Weiss is a good friend to have indeed. So make her one by clicking here !

The fact that we were able to adjust our levels with no soundcheck, only vocals mic'ed and hot rod sticks on the drums shows that we're extremely adaptable already. I had planned on this being an acoustic show for at least me but Joe talked me into playing electric. It was very strange being upright and playing those LOUD parts but doing it (cue Elmer Fudd voice) vewwy , vewwy quietly.

I cannot lie. It was really hard for me to adjust playing in daylight. I'm sure I looked like a doofus with all the squinting and such but I really wanted to do the gig without sunglasses. Eventually, I gave in and put 'em on for a song or so.

All in all, the weather was as good as it gets this time of year. I was wearing a jacket and was still comfortable so the whole "April showers" thing wasn't a problem. We couldn't have asked for better.

We started off with "Scared Of Myself". That's a first. We've already opened and closed with that one and we've only done 3 shows. It was supposed to be a soundcheck but people started paying attention so we kept right on going. "The Only Way" was the "for real" start and felt good to me. I think we were all still getting used to the lack of monitors and the weird placement of everything. "Sometimes I'm Sam" was going fine, too, until Frank started falling apart. His bass rig started going down to the point where during the second verse I sang, "Everything is focused on the bass". That really sucked for a couple of minutes. The bass slowly petered out in a semi-gaseous sounding way before dying altogether. I half expected Air Force transmissions to start coming through the speaker a la Spinal Tap . It took Frank a little too long to recover from a simple cord issue but he did eventually recover.

"Sadder Day" was pretty good. The groove felt perfect. I even saw a couple on a bench on the periphery making out hot and heavy during that one. I thought that was a little strange but cool to see nonetheless, maybe some emotion is translating. Joe wailed hard on the solo at the end. He even stepped up to the lip of the stage and played it like a STAR. I'm proud of him. The only bad thing was that the harmony at the end of the song was cued wrong for the second consecutive time. Joe nodded me in and I started on the 1. Unfortunately, he was only cuing me to say that he was about to cue me. I doubt anyone else noticed our mistake and we recovered in tandem.

Following this, we had Deep from Music To End Malaria come up and give a little speech about the needlessly deadly disease. I don't know how conducive it all was to rock and roll but it somehow seemed perfectly appropriate today and we were glad that we could help spread the word.

We got back to it with "I Won't Stand Still" and "Phony". Those were a little harder than usual today because the sun was so bright that I couldn't read the settings on my pedal board. Therefore, I had to make quite a few leaps of faith. I'm proud to say that "Phony" still maintains its potency even with low volume. I saw a few people bopping around to that one and even a few dancers.

By this point, we had totally let down our guard and were feeling relaxed. Everyone was so friendly and accomodating to us that we were simply having a good time. Joe wanted to do "Tonight Never Happened" so we gave it (ahem) the ol' college try. We premiered this song (that should never see the light of day) in broad daylight. That was truly strange. Right after the intro solo, I saw a guy leap to his feet and start waving his hands in approval as Joe hit the riff. I guess at least HE liked it. We made it fine through all the weird parts but then we got to the pause before coming back in. I looked back at Josh to await his cue. He thought I was cuing him. We just kind of stared at each other for a few seonds. Then he counted in a different way and we all kind of stumbled back into the song. I guess it was bound to happen. Again, it's cool. Not only because it's the first time but because we were amongst friends and the vibe was great.

Next up was "Towel Cape Song". At such a low level, it didn't pump like I like for it to but it was still alright. Near the end, I realized that the pollen was doing a number on my throat so I decided to not do "I Know Too Much". Instead, Allison yelled out for "Until The Road Ends" which we don't know.

Not knowing a song, might've stopped a lesser band but not us. Even though Josh has never played it, I showed him the beat and we powered through it. We had to start it twice but we pulled it off the second time and I think people really enjoyed seeing us get through.

After putting Josh on the spot, he decided to put us on the spot. He wanted to "do some crazy Van Halen" kind of stuff so I challenged Joe to do "Eruption". He met that challenge by busting out a flurry of Edward's Finest. I saw a few surprised and impressed mouths out front. "Waiting For The Siren" followed. As far as I'm concerned, "Siren" sounded the best today. We probably need to place it earlier in the set but it felt just right.

During this one, I noticed just how varied the people who stuck around were. Not only did we have the expected college students hanging out but I saw some faculty out there, too. In addition to age barriers, we also appear to be breaking some racial barriers, which I'm particularly proud of. It may be too much to pull off but it's not too much to want . Besides, if The Stones can do it, I want to do it, too. Slowly but surely, we seem to be making that happen and while we may not reach all of our goals, we're going to aim high anyway!

With it continuing to get harder to sing (and even my glass of water filling with pollen), we decided to wind things up despite the go ahead to play past the alotted time. "Taking Its Toll" was played alright but I'm still spoiled from the cell-phone waving, arm swinging Caledonia rendition from last week. That definitely didn't happen today. The solo felt good to me despite the lack of arm-wavers, though. I really feel like I'm getting to a strong place with my guitar playing. "Give Up Town" finished up the show. I heard Joe make a couple of pretty serious errors but I assume it was because he was running around making his presence known. If that's the case, it's cool. Sometimes it's gonna happen when you're rocking. From the solo on, we pulled it back together and sailed right along. I ended up with the usual flying leap and it was a done deal.

Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Scared Of Myself****
2. The Only Way****
3. Sometimes I'm Sam**
4. Sadder Day***
5. I Won't Stand Still****
6. Phony****
7. Tonight Never Happened (N)***
8. Towel Cape Song***
9. Until The Road Ends***
10. Eruption (Joe Solo!) (N)***
11. Waiting For The Siren****
12. Taking Its Toll***
13. Give Up Town****

I want to thank UGA, Matt, Ashley, Mike, Deep, Elizabeth, Alec, Marie, April, Amanda and the P.A. Queen, Miss Allison Weiss for all of the help and encouragement. I also want to thank each and every person who stuck around and missed class to see us. Heck, I want to think every single one of the hundreds of you who passed by and paused for a few minutes.

'Tis appreciated.

Here's to you...

We hope to see you soon.

Photos by Amanda Stahl.