Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings



Tuesday October 26, 2004 - Caledonia Lounge - Athens, GA
(with The Lovekill and Divided Like A Saint's)

Well, this was our first time playing the Caledonia Lounge. Tom's been there with Twain but I've never had the opportunity before. The Caledonia is a historic site. It's the original location of the 40 Watt Club. Look at the pics, you'll see the 40 Watt bulbs the club was named after over our heads. It's such a tiny place. It's hard to believe the Athenian legend was partially borne out of that room. As for us, this was one of those "Karma Shows" as I've taken to calling them. That's where we do a low key show on an off night to work in new material, try out new segues and just generally shake things up. In a way, they're really nerve wracking and difficult. In another, they're invaluable 'cause they let us know what elements we can move up to the big games. Another added bonus tonight was that Rich Merritt, a photo friend of mine came out to shoot. You can see him in some of these pics, too!

Tonight, we decided to open and close with stuff we knew and go exploring in the middle. There were ten songs on the original set list. We wound up playing four that weren't even on it so 40% of the show was pulled out on the spot. We opened with "Colors In Black & White". We played it okay but some mid-rangey feedback through the stage monitors made things a little more difficult than they needed to be. "Into My View" followed. That was an early highlight. I thought Tom's vocal during the middle 8 was exceptionally strong on that section. It's weird how it works at the Caledonia. As I said, it's small but there's a patio straight back from the stage where a lot of people hang out and / or listen. I noticed during "Into My View" that there was a glut of people in the entryway. It was actually a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday night around 11 o'clock...a heck of a lot more than I expected for a "Karma Show" anyway. It made me almost feel like we should do stuff we knew...nah, that would defeat the purpose. So we brought out "Sometimes I'm Sam" instead. It was alright. It's never been a barnstormer but it's a solid song. We got some compliments on that one afterward. We've only played it Athens once before and that was four months ago. Then I threw in "I Won't Stand Still" before "Phony." "Phony" was weird for me tonight. The "freakout" is becoming less of a freakout because I kind of know what to do now. There's not that edge of careening out of control and therefore it feels a bit predictable and safe to me. I need it to go completely beyond my own comprehension to get what I want. It still rocked suitably but it needs that "on the verge of implosion" feel. I'll figure out how to get it sooner than later.

Between songs, we heard a voice yell "It's Never The Same!" Hmmm...a request...who could that be from? I knew it had to be our friend Mary Katherine. She's always said that was her favorite song of mine. The problem is, we've never even made it through it perfectly at rehearsal! Dare we try? If we didn't, it wouldn't be an experiment now would it? Of course, we ran through it and surprise, surprise we did it okay. The flubs were slight and we smoothed them out pretty well. So there...that's our debut tonight. "It's Never The Same" was requested and performed for the first time ever...just for Mary Kat. So see - if you ever come see us, we will try to play your requests if we think there's even an off chance we can get through it. This was a success and I got a few nice post show comments about that one, too. Since we were taking requests and the set list was out the window, I then pulled out "Everyday" for KARMATROOPEREXTREME Jonathan. When I told him it wasn't on the list tonight, he seemed a bit there, we added that, too. It was a nice addition. It shot us some energy when we needed it. Feeling the need to rock a little more, I did a request for myself, "Worms On The Pavement." It used to be an every show thing but we've alternated it out a lot lately. It was probably the hardest rocker tonight and I had a good time doing it even if the old Hamer was slightly out of tune during the solo.


Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.

1. Colors In Black & White ***
2. Into My View ***
3. Sometimes I'm Sam ***
4. I Won't Stand Still ***
5. Phony ***
6. It's Never The Same (N)***
7. Everyday ****
8. Worms On The Pavement ****
9. Twist **
10. Creepy Jackalope Eye **
11. Give Up Town ****

Unfortunately, the lowlight for me tonight was "Twist." It's not that it was bad, it's just such a melodramatic song that all conditions really need to be favorable to make it shine. Tonight, it was merely functional. I've also got to find a way to switch guitars quicker during the seems to kind of drag. Afterwards, someone told me that they thought the bass was going to crush their skull during that song. It did seem a bit overpowering after awhile! Tom does the lead vocal on this one and I sing harmony and, for whatever reason, the harmonies weren't dead on tonight. I guess we need to have another vocal rehearsal. We've been focusing on the music so much lately, it may be that we've let one of strengths dwindle a bit in the process. I will say that Tom put some pretty killer fills during the middle 8, though. That section and the solo really lifted off. The rest just needs some picking up. To finish things off, we slammed through "Creepy Jackalope Eye" and the traditional closer "Give Up Town." We haven't done "Creepy" in Athens for over 4 months fact, I think we've only played it once in 4 months and that was at our last show. It had a really strong energy. The guitar and bass got off-track during the last chorus but no one seemed to notice. Thinking back, it probably would've been better to reverse the last two. "Creepy" rocks full out, while "Give Up Town" slams and then floats. The floating seemed odd so soon after the blast. The other way around it would've been more effective. Again - that's the point of these "Karma Shows": to see what works and how to make things work more effectively in the future. Tonight was just what it should've been under those circumstances. Thankfully, all of our experiments worked okay. The only iffy thing is that since it's so off-the-cuff, it's harder to put on the eyebrows. That's a slight problem. The fact is, we've still got more eyebrows when we're eyebrowless than a lot of bands firing all cylinders. This was a "par for the course" show. It was alright and certainly unique.

There wasn't as much post-show hanging out as usual tonight. Tom just started a new job so he needed to ditch while Frank took off with some friends before I even got to say goodbye. I did hang out and talk to our "consultant" Jonathan. He's good to have out 'cause he'll give it to me straight. I admire that. I was glad that he continues to enjoy the new material and his knowledge of what we already do really helps him have a special perspective on things. He had some interesting ideas to attempt in the future, too...and you can bet we'll attempt them at some point! I planned on sticking around longer to check out Divided Like A Saint's but an unforeseen glitch took me out of there pretty quickly. So I apologize here for bailing so quick while I also thank them for inviting us to do this show with them.

Also thanks to Julia, Mike, Mary Kat and The Lovekill ("Staccato" rocks!).

Photos by Amanda Stahl.