Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings



Thursday December 30, 2004 - Atlanta, GA
Peachtree Tavern

...And so we wrapped our year with our first Atlanta-proper show. We played in Decatur back in early October but this one was in the heart of Buckhead, just a few blocks from The Roxy. It's nice to be able to get a gig at this venue and it's all thanks to a chance meeting backstage at a RUSH concert where I met a couple of the Sun Domingo guys. Tonight almost slipped away from us as I almost had to cancel. I'm not sure what's wrong but I injured myself on Christmas Eve and haven't been feeling well since. I either a) reopened a liver laceration that I suffered 4 years ago, b) have bruised ribs c) have a kidney stone d) have pleurisy or e) some combination of the above.The night before this show, I was shaking from chills and on the verge of the emergency room. The fact is, I've been in quite a bit of pain. I did a lot of thinking and considering before I decided that I needed to go on with the show. I've been excited about this show for too long and I've been looking forward to seeing Sun Domingo. So I sucked it up, Motrin-ized and headed for the ATL. When I got there, the other guys were ready and waiting (what a pleasant and unusual surprise - sometimes one is there, but never both!). Soon after, I was shocked to see the most dedicated show goer that we have walk in. I couldn't believe Jonathan drove out 70 something miles to see us. I didn't even send out an email to the Athens contingent so I guess he just remembered. What a trooper he is! Of course, at this point, he's also a genuine part of "our gang." I was glad that I didn't cancel and have him drive out for nothing. I would've felt so bad about that. Andy Ainsworth (formerly in Q-Sign and Star Zero with me) of Gbanjah was there, too. When it came time to play, we wound up doing some custom alterations just for him. I also got to spend a little time with Edgel Groves, Jr. of Sun Domingo. It was good to catch up with him. I'm glad his band is doing well. They really deserve all the good things coming their way. Tom and I also had a nice, relaxing chat with Bill (the soundguy) while we set up. He used to tour with Drivin' N' Cryin' and we have a few mutual friends that we could pick on in their collective absence. And Bill knows his stuff, too. Before we even ran through "Haven't Got A Clue" at soundcheck, he pretty much had us mixed.

Since Andy came out for the show, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to hear. He mentioned "If You Want To Go" which was definitely NOT on the list for tonight. But you know us; we hadda do it for him just for being there. We dropped "Colors In Black & White" (the first time that we haven't played it ever) for "If You Want To Go." It really was going in cold to open with this tonight. My voice wasn't really worked in yet (and the pain when I took breaths didn't help) but it was an alright rendition. Things leveled off for "Until The Road Ends." That's such an "easy come, easy go" song. It always works even if it's never that special. It's one of our "glue" songs that holds together the pacing. Then it was on to "the necessaries." I thought Tom's vocal on "Into My View" was especially strong tonight. Frank even remedied a couple of slips he's made lately on that one. I really do like that song. I'm quite proud of it. I think it's interesting and catchy without sounding derivative in any way. But what do I know? If people cared about my opinions on music, they'd pay me to write about it, huh? (Oh...oh yeah.) Next up was the hardest part of the night for me because the next two are "breath counters" and my breath wasn't easy to conserve tonight. Plus, we added a new segue / transition and ending between them. "Towel Cape Song" was solid (as it has been lately). I saw Molly bopping along to it and noticed at least a couple of people singing. We segued that straight into "I Know Too Much" with a smooth transition that we just worked up at the last couple of practices. I also wrote an actual solo to it on Tuesday so I debuted it in front of the audience a little over 48 hours later. We've also added an optional big ending to "I Know Too Much.". It was a bit rickety but we got through it okay. When we tighten it up, it'll be killer.

Next up was our "I Won't Stand Still" / "Phony" two-fer. Again, we've gotten very consistent on these two so they worked fine. The solo at the end of "Phony" always intrigues me because it's part improv and I play for however long I feel on any given night. Tonight was a little more musical than usual but in the response, I still heard the mix of confusion, concern and amazement at our overkill. I like that. Although, I like it even better when we get the swelling, rising waves that come with it on occasion. "I'll Be Fine" ended the "teeth-gnashing portion" of our set. I guess it had to happen sooner or later but it just wasn't there for me tonight. And it was all my fault (or at least my guitar's fault). I knocked the tune way off during the wah-solo and had to spend the last 1/3 of the song bending notes back into place. Still, it got a nice reaction and I do think it's one of our signature songs already. When I looked up, I was surprised to see how many people had filled in. It was a nice turnout for December 30, which is traditionally one of the deadest club nights of the year. And yet, all these nice people had come out to see some rock and roll. They may not have known who we were 'til tonight, but hopefully they'll remember us and we'll see 'em again. If you've been keeping up here, you know how we ended. We did our double shot of "Taking Its Toll" and "Give Up Town." I still love how they fit together. They're so different and yet so suited to be together. 'Tis a beautiful thing. The other good thing is that they always wrap things up powerfully and strongly. I'm so glad Tom persuaded us to add "Give Up Town."

Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. If You Want To Go **
2. Until The Road Ends ***
3. Into My View****
4. Towel Cape Song****
5. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)***
6. I Won't Stand Still****
7. Phony***
8. I'll Be Fine**
9. Taking Its Toll***
10. Give Up Town****

Afterwards, I did my usual runaround for input. Jonathan agreed with me that overall, this was just an okay night for us. It was certainly not a special or overwhelmingly good one. It was, however, a perfectly competent introduction to the heart of Atlanta. Brian, Edgel and Forrest from Sun Domingo all said they wanted to do some more shows with us and I'm going to do my best to make that happen. I love those guys. What a great band. We're completely compatible, too (which is hard to find for us and I imagine for them, too). I talked to Edgel's dad (Edgel Groves, Sr.) for a good long time. He had a lot of great insights for us. He was a touring musician for many years and it was nice to speak to someone who would so generously share his opinions with a goofy guitar player who he just met! Thank you, sir, for your time. I hope to see you again.

Thanks again to Bill, Jonathan, Andy, Jason, Edgel, Forrest, Brian, Molly, Amanda and everyone else who made this show a solid gig for us. Happy new year to you all! We can't wait to spend some time with you in live in '05!

Photos by Amanda Stahl.