Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings

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Saturday April 2, 2005 - Athens, GA
Wild Wing Cafe

Okay, this was just a weird night. Our Wild Wing debut was definitely not what any of us had hoped for...especially since this was all about us sharing the bill with our friends in Sun Domingo. Due to what were apparently incredibly important basketball games on the screens, we weren't even allowed to attempt a soundcheck until after the scheduled show time. When we got to it, the soundman (Sibley - our friend and one of the few who can say he saw our first "open rehearsal" in Milledgeville) realized that the whole PA was shot. No mains were working whatsoever. There's no way to perform like that. So what to do? After more than a half hour of hemming and hawing, about half of the PA miraculously recovered but with no subs or bottom whatsoever. Hmmm....still not good. We were all asked whether we wanted to just get paid, cut our losses and do it again in May. That's all fine and dandy but a couple of friends of mine (Ira and Carolyn) were making a hundred mile trip to see us so I really wanted to make it happen. So we tried. I wound up borrowing Brian's amp. It's the exact same make and model as mine and after discovering the cracklies last night, I thought it would be best to not take a chance. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his isn't as overdriven or "hot" as mine so my tone was much flatter than I prefer. At least there was no noise.

We jumped right into our usual "Colors / Road" opener. Man, was it hard to make out what the heck was going on with that sound system. By the time we rolled into "Sometimes I'm Sam" I noticed the Sun Domingo camp was not happy with the sound that was coming out of the PA. When they heard no bottom end and little vocals coming through the PA, they decided that they wouldn't attempt to deal with the problems. After all, it's the club's responsibility to provide proper sound re-enforcement - and this wasn't it! During "Into My View" Tom was passed the message that we would now be the only band playing tonight. Yikes! We weren't prepared for this and in all honesty, I didn't relish the idea of playing a full set with all of these technical problems. But why not? What else did we have to do? Let's see what we can pull off under worst case scenario sound. "Towel Cape Song" and "I Know Too Much" were about average. We did get a decent response to 'em after all. Then we decided to just go out on the wings and experiment more. "Goodbye Tuesday" was played (more or less) for the Sun Domingo guys. I still can't believe how rarely we've played that song considering the fact that it's a favorite of all of us. It was fine tonight. Then it was back to the usual "I Won't Stand Still / Phony" dealey. I've gotta say that it just didn't have its usual teeth tonight. I think we played it okay (even though Frank missed a crucial cue) but I think the technical situation just stole the eyebrows and "Phony" is a song that must have eyebrows. Our time should've just about been up (as an opener) at this point so I asked how many more...the answer was yelled back, "Just keep going." Wonderful. Of all the nights we've wanted to play a little longer, this wasn't it. No problem, though, we can use the practice in working through difficult situations so it was on. "I'll Be Fine" was next. This one felt good to me. I know I did one of the best solos I've ever done on it. (It's the only totally "ad libbed every night" solo left - although it's starting to become more consistently the same). Then I segued on into "Scared Of Myself". I can't deny that doing these songs back to back absolutely made me think (and dwell) on my Dad for ten minutes or so. Then I didn't know where to go so I asked for requests. I heard a few but the one I heard first was from Frank. He wanted to do "Wide Bicycle". I've gotta tell you, he wasn't BAD tonight but his playing was definitely erratic so since that's such a bass-centric song, I vetoed it. I just didn't think we could do it justice. Tom then suggested "Jewel Box". It's one we know even less well than "Wide Bicycle" but I think it's easier to cover problems on it so we did it. There was nothing wrong with "Jewel Box" but it was totally clear to me why it isn't a regular. It just can't stand up to the rest of our catalog...sorry...that's just a fact. I think it's the weakest song we do (over all). By now I was ready to go so we did the final sprint through "Taking Its Toll" and "Give Up Town." I introduced "Taking Its Toll" as "This is "Taking Its Toll." That's a statement and a song." That got a couple of sympathetic laughs due to the PA going crazy. Then Tom's problems took hold. His kick pedal broke so for (not the first time) the duration of "Give Up Town", he tried to compensate on the floor toms. This has definitely been done better. I was ready to do my goodnight and thanks schtick when we kept getting requests to play more. Ack! Again, why tonight? So we pulled out "It's Never The Same." It was solid. I enjoyed playing it tonight. Still killing time, we pulled out "She Walks." Around this time, the monitors went out (!!!????!!!). So there was virtually nothing heard outside of our amps. So even though people were yelling for us to continue, we jumped on "Creepy Jackalope Eye" and got off the stage before anyone managed to talk us into more.

 

 

 

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. Towel Cape Song***
6. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)***
7. Goodbye Tuesday****
8. I Won't Stand Still****
9. Phony***
10. I'll Be Fine****
11. Scared Of Myself****
12. Jewel Box***
13. Taking Its Toll***
14. Give Up Town**
15. It's Never The Same****
16. She Walks**
17. Creepy Jackalope Eye***

 

All in all, this was one of my least favorite shows - but at least it was due to things outside of the band's control. It wasn't bad - it was just boring and difficult. This really was more of an open rehearsal than a "performance." I hope Ira and Carolyn get another chance to see us on a decent, non-problem night. They both said how much they enjoyed it but if that's the case, they'll be floored when they see the real thing. Oh well - we'll be back with Sun Domingo at this same venue the night after we open for A Flock Of Seagulls in Atlanta.

Fingers crossed on everything working next time...

 

Photos by Amanda Stahl.

 

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