Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings



Wednesday April 20, 2005 - Athens, GA
(with Guff, Trubblegum and Groovestain)

Tasty World - Second Floor

So...were we prepared to jump into a last minute invitation show? Well, apparently we were for the most part. Overall, it was pretty good. We played just fine. Our schtick was a little flat and I had a technical problem that deflated us early but it was remedied and laughed off before we were on again. I'm happy to say that I think our playing was really there...which is something you'll rarely hear me say (so far). It didn't hurt that we had a decent sound system tonight! This show was called "4:20." I have no idea what it meant or what it had to do with anything. This was a Lovenotes Promotions sponsored show and I thank Tommy and Toni for inviting us out to do it (even if I don't know the concept). I was even more flattered when I got there and they wanted to move us up from opener to a more prominent spot playing at the peak time of 11:30 - 12:30. Normally, I would jump at that chance but my schedule has me so fried out right now that I knew I wouldn't be able to do my job tonight or tomorrow if we didn't stick to opener status. So we actually went on at 9:45...well before any Athenian is out and about on a Wednesday. There were still 30-40 people scattered through the second floor so it was good enough for us.

Since we've not rehearsed lately, we stuck to the tried and true. We cruised through "Colors In Black & White" (although the pollen in the air and coming through the open windows was choking me) before slamming into "Until The Road Ends." Here's where the big glitch took over. I had to adjust my level and POOF, my guitar was gone. For some reason, instead of just extending the intro even longer, Frank and Tom were off into the verse without me. I ignored 'em 'cause I couldn't join 'em anyway. I fixed my problem but they were too far in. Bottom line: for the first time ever, we stopped a song and started it over. Talk about screwing with momentum...and on a segue song, too. Oh well, at least with that out of the way, we could cruise through the rest of the night. Which is pretty much exactly what we did. I believe "Sometimes I'm Sam" was close to flawless. It felt good and built nicely from the mid-tempo groove to the more rocking coda. "Into My View" seemed to bend the ear (in a good way) of several other band members who appeared to be getting into it (even though they were clearly trying to figure out what the bejeezus kind of music this is with its guitar rock riff, off-time disco beat and impressionist lyric). The only semi-oddity tonight was a quickened up version of "Goodbye Tuesday." I'm enjoying playing this again lately so I feel it's finally getting its due. It was a little too fast but it wound up working for us as we followed it with "I Won't Stand Still." This was fine. Tom transposed the backups again (a bad habit that we once had broken). I did the same thing later in the show but we weren't singing together at the time so it wasn't as obvious as this. "Phony" came next and I've gotta say, it was good to rip that solo out using my amp and settings again (the last show I had to borrow an amp). I noticed Timi Conley (from Trubblegum, Aqualove, Fuzzy Sprouts) checking us out during this one. And we got our usual round of extra hoots, hollers and yells as we built to the solo frenzy at the end. From there, we hit "I'll Be Fine", which is where I transposed lyrics. I've done on this song a lot but I'll get over it when we start playing regularly again. We hit this one hard but I don't think it was quite as good as at the last show. "I'll Be Fine" was the highlight there. Then on to the closing ceremonies. "Taking Its Toll" was typically strong and set up "Give Up Town" perfectly. I couldn't quite control the verse feedback the way I wanted but it was still flat out. Since we had a couple of minutes to spare, we dashed through "Creepy Jackalope Eye" to close. We were off at exactly 10:30. A couple of people who have seen us repeatedly said this was one of our best sounding shows. I don't have any significant complaints about it but I can't say that it was special as I didn't have much of an audience to feed from. Inevitably, that's the difference between a solid performance and a great show. Tonight, (I'll ignore the restart and technical glitch in the second song) we'll call this the former.




Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Colors In Black & White ***
2. Until The Road Ends *
3. Sometimes I'm Sam ****
4. Into My View ****
5. Goodbye Tuesday ****
6. I Won't Stand Still ***
7. Phony ****
8. I'll Be Fine ****
9. Taking Its Toll ***
10. Give Up Town ****
11. Creepy Jackalope Eye ****


Again, my schedule's insane lately so I got out of there A.S.A.P. It was strange to play a show and be in bed by midnight but it was a very good strange.

Thanks to Molly, Toni and Tommy (and one super drunk poetry major with some cool ideas for future sets).

Photos by Amanda Stahl.