Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings


Friday May 16, 2008

Soho Bar & Grill


Columbus, GA









So we finally did it. Well, that too but that's not what I'm talking about.

First off, we finally made it to Columbus, Georgia thanks to a last minute invitation from
Make The Fur Fly and The Winter Sounds. Lemme tell you, I forgot just how far away Columbus is. It's right on the Alabama border so I guess it's the western limit for The Critical Darlings so far. We'll be pushing on over that border soon I have a feeling. Still, man, it's a long drive.

It seemed even longer when I got a call from Frank at about quarter 'til 6 telling me he was still in Athens and asking "So what city are we playing in tonight?". Yes...and we were asked to be at load-in at 7-7:30. It's a 3 hour drive (with the traffic on your side). You do the math.

When I got to the club, Joe, Josh, April and Gina were already there so we just hung out, set up and alternately chose between breathing in cigarette smoke or pollen. Y'see, in Athens, smoking's not allowed in clubs anymore. We've kind of forgotten what it's like to be in a "real rock 'n' roll environment". And if there ever was one this is it.



Soho was filled with a clearly rock 'n' roll crowd. It was good feeling to know I didn't have to apologize for our blatant over-the-topedness. We just had to rock. Frank strolled in about 9:30...just in time for us to do a very brief sound check.

We then began to psych ourselves up. The last few shows have been pretty solid and just a lot of fun. We were focused on having a good time.

We kicked off with "The Only Way" and immediately saw a positive response. By the time we hit "Sometimes I'm Sam", I was shocked to see someone singing along (Thanks, Patrick). We just decided to do "Sam" last minute as we haven't done it in a while. I had forgotten how perfect it is in this slot. I was still making some minor tweaks to our onstage sound but it was feeling more and more like a rock and roll show.

After "Sam", we dug out the "Into My View / Something Unseen" medley thingy. Jeez, I was impressed at how tight it was since we haven't done it in so long and have, in fact, only done it once ever (I think). It was danceable and rocking at the same time. What a fun combo! I saw a handful of people actually air-drumming along with the chorus syncopations. It was good to remember that we have to not forget C'mon, Accept Your Joy in our Satisfactionista excitement.

"Sadder Day" was the harmony guitar sandwich tonight. If you dig rock guitars, we were pulling 'em out left and right. I loved just sitting down on my amp for Joe's solo and watching him go. Meanwhile, Josh built it up to a frenzy while Frank and I leaped around like the geeks we are!

"Rage On" and "Towel Cape" kept the energy high. I had noticed during "Sadder Day" that my voice was starting to get weaker early due to the smoke in the room. I had to pace myself a little more than usual but I don't think anyone else would've noticed. I did an extra exaggerated ending to "Towel Cape" which the guys kept up with perfectly. Josh even added in more of his own flourishes.

By this point, quite a few people were dancing madly ("backwards roundabout"). We were having a good time and so was the crowd it seemed.

"I Won't Stand Still" and "Phony" were solid as always. They didn't feel quite as important as usual but it was only because everything else felt stronger to me. I managed to knock my guitar totally out of tune during the guitar onslaught at the end but I just leaped around even more displaying all the moves I learned from

Since people were actually brave enough to try to dance to "Phony" we figured the least we could do was give 'em a dance tune. So "Waiting For The Siren" came on out after a lightning fast and discreet retuning. Early in "Siren", one girl was inspired enough to leap onto the stage between me and Joe to show us what she was "workin' wit."

For the finale, we couldn't decide on which twofer to blast out. Joe chose what we call "Happy Rebel". It may sound like the redneck Chinese restaurant but, in fact, it's a fun (sometimes) finale for us. It basically consists of me giving my guitar to Joe and us tearing out the brand new "Happy Here And Now" while I leap around guitarless.

Unfortunately, I had Joe on the wrong guitar effect but he made it work with sheer aggression. We gave it all we had before sliding into home with "Rebel Rebel". The dancers danced and the rockers rocked.

I crawled on the floor, rolled on my back, kicked in the air, abused the mic and generally got lost in having a great time. I think you can really tell from the pics just how good a time we were all having.

Honestly, I can't tell you what the other guys were doing for the finale. I was too busy enjoying myself and the crowd. Whatever it was, I know it was good because it felt good. I couldn't believe how crowded the place was.

When we ended the set, I was so hot that it felt like my face was about to burst into flames. And that was after pouring ice water on it during the last song! Gene from Make The Fur Fly came up and made me feel even better about the evening by telling me that we were at "maximum capacity". The show was sold out. When one person would leave, they'd let another in and the first couldn't get back in without going to the back of the line.


What an amazing feeling to be able to walk into something like that for our first time in a new city! We sold a few CDs and generally tried to find places to stand as we chatted with anyone who wanted to say "Hello". I will admit that I was slightly uncomfortable when one girl told me that her only disappointment was that I didn't strip. (Yeah - that's what we all need) I just smiled sheepishly and said "Maybe next time!" She said she'd be there to remind me!

So that's three consecutive shows with no less than 150 people. The streak's gotta end soon but it's been fun. I'm thankful that these shows have come up. Now we've gotta start the real booking frenzy now that Satisfactionista's about to be unleashed.

My only regret tonight is that my friend Alice didn't make it in time to see us. We know she tried and we appreciate it. We'll also do everything we can to get back so she can see a full set as soon as possible!

Thanks Vickie, David, The Soho staff and of course Make The Fur Fly and The Winter Sounds for having us out. We hope to see you all again soon!

Goodnight, Columbus!




Athens, GA Set List

(with Chris’ totally biased ratings for the evening)

1. The Only Way ****
2. Sometimes I'm Sam ****
3. Into My View ****
4. Sadder Day ****
5. Rage On ****
6. Towel Cape Song ****
7. I Won't Stand Still ****
8. Phony ****
9. Waiting For The Siren****
10. Happy Here And Now ***

11. Rebel Rebel ***