Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings



Friday October 14, 2005 - 40 Watt Club - Athens, GA
(with Cowboy Mouth and Sam Thacker)


This was a quick one. Still, we were all excited to be making our debut at the world famous, fabulous 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. We wound up going on as soon as doors opened due to time constraints but I was surprised that there were a few people there. Since we had only about a half-hour, we decided to just cut our normal opening and move on with set from there. We opened with "Sometimes I'm Sam" which we dedicated to the other opener, Sam Thacker. It's the first time that I've sung that song knowing that an actual Sam was listening. He high-fived me over it later. We played it well. I didn't notice anything special or iffy about it. 'Twas perfectly alright. It really was just a warm-up. We followed it with "Into My View." This was the best we've played it in a long time. It had a little extra edge tonight. If my memory serves me correctly, it was a good 'un. I'll see soon enough. Our new friend Blue was there videotaping the whole thing for us. He also shot our CD release party. Look for a couple of clips from that one up at the site. It was kind of cool to see all the cameras. In fact, there were 5 people right over the front of the stage and 4 of 'em had cameras. I made a crack about it early on when I was thanking the early birds for coming in. It was just something like, "I see that some of you even came in without cameras." It got a decent laugh.

"Into My View" got a very nice round of applause as the crowd was growing. I still wasn't quite awake yet but it was time to start throwing rocks anyway. We dashed through "I Won't Stand Still" before hitting the "Phony" riff. I actually noticed a response right off. Even though I've been a little off on the extended solo the last couple of shows, it still went over really well. I noticed a lot of the staff seemed into it, which surprised me considering it's the big ol' rock tune. I was starting to wake up by the end of this one but strangely, my voice was feeling a little weak due to not having enough pre-show ritual time tonight. I don't think anyone else noticed.

My biggest surprise for tonight was Frank. He really seemed to step up and become part of the show. He's often kind of blended in but tonight, he was up there working the lip of the stage like he's always done it. I was glad to see it. On top of that, I didn't notice any real mistakes either. And behind me, Tom was on, too. I don't know if we had our collective game on fully but individually, we were doing great. "Towel Cape Song" was next and it was totally professional and together although I can't say there was anything really notable about it. In a way, that's a good thing. It means it's right! We segued it directly into "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something" which is already becoming a crowd favorite. When we switched over into the "Whole Lotta Love" bit, several people started yelling and hollering it up. Good thing, too, 'cause Tom was having a hi-hat problem and the timing was a little off. Let's hope the cheering distracted everyone. I did the ending with even more of a lead flourish than usual. I'm so happy that I'm finally comfortable enough to be able to attempt things like that. And not only attempt them but pull them off.

We followed up with our usual ender. Unfortunately, my only real complaint came in the form of "Taking Its Toll". We played it just fine but Frank's strings had slipped a bit so it just felt out of tune. That happens on occasion but it always bugs me when it does. He and I have to devise a clever way to double check it when we go there. I enjoyed "Toll" tonight nevertheless. By now, we were getting a great response from the crowd. During "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something", there was a whole table headbanging. For this one, they all swayed and stared. Of course, we tore into "Give Up Town" after that. My feedback during the verses was great due to the incredible monitor mix I had. Wendy really did a great job and made my show better than it would've been. "Give Up Town" rocked. We did it pretty fast 'cause we were out of time. We ran over by about 5 minutes but everyone was cool with it. And the response was great. All in all, it was a fitting and satisfying (if not overwhelming) re-introduction to playing the 40 Watt stage. I just hope we'll be back sooner than later and can really run with the club's luxuries!

Afterwards, we did our little, tiny meet and greet thing. I don't even know how many CD's we went through. Maybe 20 or so...which ain't bad considering how many people were there when we went on. By the way - I went out and counted immediately after our show and I got 50 people. So nearly half of 'em liked us enough to want a CD. That's pretty good results I think. I talked to some of our regulars, too. Jonathan gave me the "it was alright" thing. Which is dead on. He's seen better shows. Bud had nothing but wonderful things to say even though, to me, this was our "professional" show. We did well, we did fine, but there was nothing particularly special about it. It was a good night, not a great one. Still, I had a blast just playing there.

Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Sometimes I'm Sam ****
2. Into My View ****
3. I Won't Stand Still ****
4. Phony ****
5. Towel Cape Song ****
6. Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something ****
7. Taking Its Toll ***
8. Give Up Town ****

Thanks to Velena, Barrie, Wendy, Sam Thacker and company, Chris, Cowboy Mouth's crew, Sonia, Griff, Paul, Fred, Blue, Jonathan, Bud, Rich, Tony, Donna, Joel and everyone else we met tonight. I hope we see you again.


Photos by Amanda Stahl.