Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Friday June 30, 2006
Georgia Theatre - Athens, GA
(with The Wholigans)

Ah, what a day. I love the Georgia Theatre. I always have and I always will. They've been good to me since the Q-Sign days. The current owner, Wil, has been looking out for us, too. It's appreciated. And it's always a cool thing to get on that big ol' stage. Tonight wasn't my favorite appearance there. We got there on time, watched The Wholigans do a killer sound check (hearing "Love Reign O'er Me" was pretty intimidating) and spoke to the guys a bit. They were all extremely cool and more accommodating than most headliners. I also caught up with Wil during some downtime. We talked about Beck's recent shows here and the idiosyncrasies of others artists known and unknown. Then the problems started. The monitor man, Patrick, was trying to help out in any way he could but the regular soundman (whose name I'll leave out) was not at all helpful. He was mic'ing things incorrectly (Mike and I had to re-set my amp mic), directed me to the wrong power source (then blamed me) and was generally a bit of a jerk. I was as patient as I could be but once we'd been there for 2 and a half hours waiting for something / anything, my patience was gone. I don't mind NOT having a sound check but don't pretend like you're going to give one and then not. It's more than unprofessional, it's a lie. Mike's patience ran out quicker than mine and he kept running around, trying his best to make things right. The problem was that there was nothing we could do other than make the best of a "chemically enhanced" soundman and do our jobs anyway. Continually hearing complaints about things that wouldn't be fixed didn't help either. It only brought the energy level down further. I wound up leaving the Theatre with 20 minutes to get back across town, change clothes and get back. I walked in the door a couple of minutes before stage time to find Beth, Amanda and Jonathan there...and not many more. Jeez...I did it's another holiday weekend in Athens during the summer. This time, it's the 4th of July extended weekend. Records sell less this week, TV ratings plummet and this is normal every year. Don't it just figure that I'd choose this weekend to make our return?

We did return but to be painfully obvious, it was hardly worth the bother. Mike was (rightfully) angry the whole time due to the sound check situation. Unfortunately, his attitude only brought mine down and made it harder for me to do my job. He missed several cues, including important segues due to a mix of his own bad hearing and (even more so) from the bad sound. He kept yelling things to me between songs when I was trying to introduce songs, etc. It was just a bad vibe coming from back there. Still, we tried. After a solid "Sometimes I'm Sam", we bumbled into "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something." It straightened out but the beginning of it really put me off. It felt like to me like the band was made of tin and covered in rust. Which is stupid considering how well we've been playing recently at rehearsal. It was more a matter of the uninspiring and difficult situation. "It's Never The Same" was the highlight of the night for me. This one came together nicely with the ending for the first time. My "eyebrows" were missing but I was proud of our performance of this one. We also did solid takes of "If I Could (I Guess I Should)" and "Waiting For The Siren." We figured since not many people there knew us anyway (and they were filtering in), we could do a bunch of new stuff. The show had leveled out by this point. It wasn't good or bad. It just was. Even "I Won't Stand Still" and "Phony" didn't turn the place on its ear like usual. I did hear the best response of the night from it nonetheless. Mike also had some cool additions to the end of "Phony" that I haven't really noticed before. Frank was playing alright. I was playing alright. Mike was playing alright. But we weren't playing together. I wonder if it comes from us not playing together. What do you think? Frank really wanted to do "Happy Here & Now" tonight so I shoehorned it in after "Towel Cape Song". It was sloppy. I forgot lyrics. Mike forgot the solo cue. But I guess if you don't know the song, you wouldn't know. I knew. And that was bad enough. We closed it out with a semi-energetic "Give Up Town." 'Twas alright. This was not a bad show. But it was a bad environment.



Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Sometimes I'm Sam****
2. Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something***
3. It's Never The Same****
4. If I Could (I Guess I Should)****
5. Waiting For The Siren****
6. I Won't Stand Still****
7. Phony****
8. Towel Cape Song***
9. Happy Here & Now**
10. Give Up Town****


Afterwards, Mike had some words with the soundman, I had some kinder words from and with Wil, our good friend Jonathan told me flat out that the mix out front sucked and the vocals were nearly non-existent (maybe if you're chemically enhanced, they come through better). Everyone else that spoke kept saying how great we were. Wil, knowing the situation, came up and gave me a hug and thanked me for my patience in dealing with problems from his staff. He later promised to make it up to us and said his guys "would love a shot at redemption" with us.

I still love the Theatre and I look forward to that happening soon.

When we finished playing, I walked over between Mike and Frank and said, "This may be the last Critical Darlings show." Maybe I spoke it in haste but something has to give. With Frank and Mike not able to devote the time and energy that is needed, we're just limping through it. And I'm tired of waiting. Granted, I still think of the Critical Darlings as the original lineup of Chris, Tom and Frank but I think that Chris, Frank and Mike are coming into our own and have something special to offer (whether or not we keep the name). We're simply not doing enough. And not doing enough isn't working. I'm not saying it's over but I'm saying it's time for a change...a major one if necessary. We need to rejuvenate the members like we've rejuvenated the set list. Otherwise, it's pointless. It's time to jump in or jump out. I'm already in. We'll see who else comes along.

XIII - Death

Right side up :

"It indicates a period of change, internal, external, or both, or the necessity of making a transformation."


Satisfaction, anyone?


Photos by Amanda Stahl.