Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Saturday April 14, 2007
(With Rollin' Home, New Moon, Samurai Trout and Rawin Hiro)

Little Kings
Athens, GA

What a strange little gig this was for us. The wondrous metal queen of Athens, Carla LaFever. invited us to play at this benefit for the after school program at Clarke Middle School. The weather all around us was frightful (a Noreaster was coming through) but there was a little hole in the overcast above Little Kings (we never got anything more than an occasional misting). In fact, pre-show I walked around downtown with Joe and Frank to get the energy going.

When we got back, Rollin' Home was in full force. I'm always glad to hear guys that aren't afraid to wail on a guitar. They are NOT afraid of guitars, lemme tell you. We may be sharing the stage with them again!

I had noticed that one of the early bands had a grounding issue so Ms. LaFever hooked me up with an adapter to keep from getting shocked for a zillionth time. Before the next show, I must invest the dollar-or-so into buying my own.

The stage at Little Kings is small and knowing us, I decided there was no way I could stay up there. I would've injured myself and taken Joe, Frank and the drums out at some point. So unlike the other bands, Joe, Frank and I stayed on the floor and treated the whole stage as Josh's riser. I think it was the only way to do it tonight. We did a brief soundcheck (vocals only through the PA) that found us busting out some Zeppelin riffs. Josh joined in on "The Ocean", Joe sang "Whole Lotta Love" and I grabbed "Ramble On." I don't know, it seemed like the thing to do. Just before showtime, Carla came up and asked if we could share a head-butt. I wasn't quite sure I heard her right so I leaned forward to ask for a repeat. At this point, she rammed her head into mine. Now THAT is one ROCK-N-ROLLER.

We kicked off the set with our usual "The Only Way" / "Sam" twofer. It was sounding pretty good and I noticed a few dancers. For the first time tonight, we dived right into "Waiting For The Siren" as a third direct segue. For the drum intro, I did the banter while Joe did a bit of disco dancing for those in attendance. It worked nicely. Joe really seemed to like this triple-shot opening.

"Sadder Day" followed and I must admit that this one was probably the best its ever been done. Joe was going OUT THERE on his solo. I went over to watch him before joining in on the harmony-solo ending. It's during moments like that that I'm even blown away by what this band can do when we set our sights on it.

After "Sadder Day", somehow a really bizarre, cool speech emanated from Frank as he took over center stage. I don't know how it all started but it ran from a fitting after-school discussion to Daphne from Scooby Doo to rosie palms and plaid shoes. It was pure Frank. When I looked back, Josh was leaning back on his drum stool laughing.

"I Won't Stand Still" / "Phony" followed and it riled up some of the audience enough for them to confront me during the solo. They were right up there on top of me. I goaded them on and they did the same back to me. It was about as good as it gets and I nailed the mic-stand pitch bend perfectly!

Tonight I actually began "Scared Of Myself" with a short unscripted solo. I don't know where it came from but it was nice. This song has been a delight with this lineup. This is how it's always needed to be played. We followed on with "Towel Cape" and tried yet another new ending. Eh, it still didn't feel right. I also heard a few more mistakes than there should've been on this one and on our "Give Up Town" finale. But hey, when everything's right for as long as it was, you've still got a great set. To prove it, I took a flying leap from the riser at the end of "Give Up Town."

Overall, this was yet another solid gig. I think our pacing could still be improved. "Sadder Day" and "Phony" are clearly the two high points of the show. We need to figure a way to make 'em shine even more. We are definitely coming together as a live force.

I can't believe that less than 2 weeks ago, we'd never even performed together.

Completely biased star reports:

1. The Only Way****
2. Sometimes I'm Sam****
3. Waiting For The Siren****
4. Sadder Day*****
5. I Won't Stand Still*****
6. Phony*****
7. Scared Of Myself*****
8. Towel Cape Song***
9. Give Up Town***

After the show, I unbuttoned the jacket I was wearing (which I borrowed from Amanda) to find that I had sweated completely through my blue shirt. For the record, I hardly ever sweat. But rock requires it at times and this was just one of 'em.

Thanks Carla, thanks CMS, thanks Little Kings and thanks to those who watched the show.


Photos by Amanda Stahl.