Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings

Friday May 18, 2007
(With Great Society and The Vinyl Strangers)

Little Kings Shuffle Club
Athens, GA

And welcome to Frank's reluctantly attained, typically smarmy, warm and fuzzy show report debut!

Now heeeerrree's Frank:

"It seems I've been drafted to do the show report. Never been my thing, really. If you were there, then you should be quite rightly  "in the know", and if not, too #*%!n' bad. Ask someone who is in the know or catch us next time. We were there; where were you?

However, being for the benefit of those who reallyreally wanted to be there but were either too sick & infirmed to make it out, I'll try to recount the 'haps as best I can. Just be mindful that I play these shows to have fun and provide some form of lite entertainment to both fans and the great unwashed alike, not to chronicle the events of the eventide. Besides, after all the shows Chris and I have played over the years, I've  found them to be all remarkably similar.

Ah well, here goes...

To begin with, load-in was at 7:30 pm. Joe & I rolled in to find Carla LaFever was already there to set up a P.A. for us which was as fortuitous as it was unexpected. It made a HUGE difference -THANK YOU, CARLA!!!! 

So...what happens when you're playing at midnight and still have 3.5 hours to kill yet don't want to give up your bitchin' parking spot? You go next door to the Manhattan to soak up some Schlitz. Nick (from Freeball and several other local bands) was bartending. About 30 minutes before we went on, Joe decided we should do some Vodka shots. I usually know better but I was under some pretty extreme peer pressure so I immediately gave in. Then we each had one more Schlitz for the road before staggering next door to Little Kings.

Actually, I was the one staggering.

Scientifically speaking, Joe is a lot bigger than me and thusly the same amount of Schlitz & Vodka will affect him to a comeasurerately lesser degree.

Notice how long it's takin' to get around to the part about us playing? Maybe you see where this is going.....

Usually most shows go like this for me: We tune to each other at full stage volume to annoy everybody around (especially the soundman). Then everything gets really dark, bright lights pop on and we start playing the first song, proceeding song by song through the evening's set list until we have completed the last song.

Then the show is over.

Somewhere in between we run around like jackasses and try our best to channel Angus, while playing like Yngwie. Sweat gets in my eyes and gets really stingy, making it hard to notice what's going on in the room. In most cases it doesn't matter anyway because almost every audience member will invariably do the same thing (you're all so predictable).

Initially, no one wants to come up front. It's kind of like a sixth grade ice cream social beneath the sea, y'know? The kids are shy. Of course they WANT to have fun, they're THERE to have fun and yet they're hesitant to take that crucial first step in the process (Here's a hint: It AIN'T about the ice-cream). So OUR job is to get you off you're self-consious, repressed asses and up front and rockin' by taunting you about it. See?

We do it out of love (That is, our love of taunting you). We ain't the background noise for your evening out. We're the reason FOR your evening out. So the sooner you realise that and begin to act accordingly, the better we play and a vastly more raucous experience is ultimately had by YOU, the end user.  I mean, C' PAID to get in and we appreciate it. Think of it as getting the maximum return on your rock dollar.

So where were we? Oh yeah, we went on around midnight. The one difference for me was that I decided to experiment with a printed shirt instead of the usual solid, monochrome look. I haven't seen the photos yet so I have no idea if it will make the cut or end up in my To Burn pile.  As for an actual song-by-song report, I can rarely ever remember the setlist. I don't HAVE to as it's taped to the stage.

I do remember "Sa**er Day" being a standout. Joe ripped it up!!!  And I still can't believe the difference in live energy that Josh brings to the band. I played pretty well, even in my sorry, besotted state. Little Kings is not known for having a particularly elaborate lighting rig so we used what was there. A couple of  bare white bulb lamps. It might have made it easier to see us, but it doesn't work the other way around. It made it impossible to reference what fret I was on, especially in some of my more complex runs. So I flubbed more notes than usual. But if I wanted to play perfectly, I'd just pull up an easy chair and sit down and actually pay attention to what I was playing. But that wouldn't be very raucous, now would it? Much less entertaining for me and you. Not that I'm making excuses for playing more buzzed than usual. Even if I'd  been sober as a judge I still wouldn't have been able to see what I was doing so it all kind of evened out.

At one point, photographer Rich Merritt totally caught me off gaurd when he popped through a window to snap a shot (seriously). I wish he could have gotten a shot of himself popping through the window to get a surprise shot of us but, y'know, the logistics.....

During "I Won't Stand Still", I don't have anything to do for the first 20 seconds or so, so I found myself thinking about how badly I need to cut my grass but first I need to go shopping for a lawn mower. What do I want? A Snapper? A Torro? Maybe one with the lawn bag on it....

Glamorous stuff but seriously, my yard needs a mow job really bad...

The best part of the evening was that on one of the deadest nights of the year in Athens (the University is out, the town's deserted and Memorial Day is approaching), people came out to see us! We made some new friends who proceeded to catch me back up on my pre-show state and keep me out very late. The hangover was a bitch but I still remember that Great Society were indeed great and The Vinyl Strangers were a blast. We usually have alot of fun playing but this one was more fun than most. We've got one more date with the Strangers coming up in Augusta on May 31 and it would greatly behoove any of you already entertainment-starved peoples in the area to be there instead of reading about it after the fact."

Thank you, Frank, for that insightful look back. Now here's the actual set list (minus "Jessie's Girl" which didn't quite make it to the chorus).


Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. The Only Way***
2. Sometimes I'm Sam***
3. Waiting For The Siren***
4. Sadder Day*****
5. Towel Cape Song****
6. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)*****
7. Tonight Never Happened***
8. Scared Of Myself***
9. I Won't Stand Still***
10. Phony****
11. Taking Its Toll****
12. Give Up Town****


As for me, you know I can't let it go by without putting in my $14.73. First off, I need to thank Ryan from Blue Flashing Light and his Dad for hanging out. We're looking forward to sharing the stage with you soon. It was also good to meet Remy and Steven as well as to get re-aquainted with our friends in Great Society and The Vinyl Strangers.

As Frank was saying, I expected no one to be there as this time of the year is always a disaster in Athens. Still, we did okay. To me, it was huge. On top of that, Tom Bavis was there (albeit to see The Vinyl Strangers) so it was the first time the original lineup of the Darlings has been in the same place in ages. Plus, Tom got to meet the new boys so now they can all put faces with the apocryphal stories past, present and future.

Carla LaFever once again came to our rescue with a suitable PA, Jonathan was lurking around in his Intergalactic Hussy style way, Rich Merritt was snapping shots, Amanda was handling merch (and the pics on this page) and all went off without a hitch.

I got to see the full set from Great Society for once (I love those guys) and was able to see one of my favorite local bands, The Vinyl Strangers, for the first time ever. I'm proud of this bill that we put together. It was solid all night and the bands fit together without being redundant.

I'm not going to add much about the show but it was funny when we realized after two songs that Joe's mic wasn't even on. We all imagined that we weren't hearing him but as it turns out, our imaginations were reality! I'm glad we figured it out before we got to the backup heavy songs! Also, I concur with Frank that "Sadder Day" was a monster tonight. It's my favorite song to play right now. We also did the rarely performed "Tonight Never Happened", "I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)" and "Taking Its Toll". Judging by the singing along and post show reaction to the last two, they'll be around. "Tonight Never Happened" will still be an alternate (even though we played it well).

All in all, we were a little sloppier tonight that we ever have been with this lineup (I blame lights and alcohol) but it still felt better than tighter shows with previous groups of Darlings. This was, after all, our rust-buster show. We're polished and ready to go now.

Up next, Chattanooga on Thursday and Atlanta on Friday!


Photos by Amanda Stahl.