Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings



Friday March 10, 2005 - Athens, GA
Tasty World

This was kind of a strange show. 'Twas the Thursday before Spring Break and (little did we know), not a creature was stirring - well, except a couple. So we returned to the REAL STAGE at Tasty World for a rock and roll extravaganza in front of maybe 20 or 30 people total...

The headliners in Honestly were nice enough not to force us off the bill (like they did to our friends Sun Domingo two days later in Greenville) but their soundcheck ran until almost 10 o'clock. Our scheduled start time. Luckily, we're easy to soundcheck. We just had to undo their ungodly monitor mixes and get on with it. Kevin Sweeney (of Hayride fame) was running sound for us and he pulled it together in no time. Since we had to cut "I'll Be Fine" from the set list due to time constraints, we ran through the whole thing during soundcheck and then we were done and done right. I wish everyone could be as fast as we are in that area.

A few minutes later, we took the stage harder than anyone playing to so few ever should. We breezed through "Colors" and "Until The Road Ends" with no problems whatsoever and even managed to pull a decent response. "Into My View" was just as good (although Tom later said he didn't think his vocal was as "on" as usual tonight). I didn't really notice. At the end of "Sometimes I'm Sam", tumbleweeds could've been blowing by. It was almost dead silence. Tonight, I was feeling aggressive, though, so it only made me amp it up even more. The "Towel Cape" / "I Know Too Much" double shot was nice and kicking and I don't remember a single mistake or slip from any of us. Again, we earned the applause we got.

Now it was time to push it over the edge. It was so good to be playing through a big P.A. again that it was hard for me not to feel inspired. When I looked around a realized that Tom and Frank were pushing hard, too, it only made me want to take it higher. So it was on into "I Won't Stand Still / Phony". By this time, we had three photographers taking pictures of us (which at least made me feel like I had to put on a show). Amanda (of course), my friend Rich Merritt (who had a birthday yesterday) and Ben Gerrard from Flagpole who writes the local live club reviews. It wasn't the ideal night for Ben to see us since we had no crowd to play off of but at least we were playing well and I know we sounded good. So that'll do. I took "Phony" by the neck tonight. That's that mix of desperation and inspiration, I guess. During the solo, all 3 photogs were shooting. As you can see, I definitely had my "guitar face" on. Before I played lead in bands, I used to make fun of guitarists who did that stuff. Now I realize that it's actually functional and helps. Who knew? I'm proud of all of our performances on "Phony". It's really hard to have eyebrows on when there's so few there to see 'em but we did it tonight. That's another major step in our progress. As the delay rang out at the end of the song, I looked out and (I'm not kidding) literally saw a couple of slack jaws. That over-the-top ending still surprises people I think. I was a little self-conscious about it at first but I think I've finally come to terms with how well we do it and realize that it's one of our specialties that no other band I've seen (outside of an arena) has the guts or the ability to do. Then we headed to the "other side of the arena" for "Taking Its Toll." During the big ending, I noticed our friend Jonathan waving a lighter so I flicked another pick at him. I missed him by a mile this time. I guess I haven't had enough practice. Again, we got a big response (like with "Phony") and I think we had won over most of the attendees at this point. I looked at my watch and noticed it was 11:07. We had been told to try to end by 11:10. Should we dare do another? Why not. "Since none of our songs are short enough", I said, "we're going to go to Steve Earle via The Supersuckers" and we dashed through "Creepy Jackalope Eye". We ended at exactly 11:09:34 by my watch...26 seconds to spare. I'm proud of what we did. During the show I said "We will be back whether you like us or not so get used to us. We will be back again...and again...and again...and we'll keep coming back." I meant it. We rose to the occasion tonight.


Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Colors In Black & White ****
2. Until The Road Ends ****
3. Into My View ****
4. Sometimes I'm Sam ***
5. Towel Cape Song ****
6. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good) ****
7. I Won't Stand Still ****
8. Phony ****
9. Taking Its Toll ****
10. Creepy Jackalope Eye ****

I didn't hang around long after the show. I grilled Kevin (the soundman) a little more to get his opinions on us. He used the magic "power pop" phrase and that was enough for me. I spoke to Jonathan who (in an ironic turn of events) didn't think the show was quite as good as I did. Usually, I'm saying it sucks and he's acting like I'm an idiot. He did say this was a good 'un...just "not one of your best." I can agree with that. It wasn't one of our best. But it was still a good night and we did our jobs well despite early disinterest. We won 'em over enough by the end...but it was a fight. The next stage in our development is nearly complete.

Thanks Murphy, Claire, Kevin, Asa, Eric, Jonathan, Rich, Ben, Julia and anyone else who dropped by especially to see us or helped us out tonight.

See you soon...


Photos by Amanda Stahl.