Header image


April 29, 2010


Max Canada
Athens, GA




By Chris McKay

(PRE-WARNING: This has not been proof-read.)

Well, we did it. Somehow.

Frank and I have been searching for the perfect “fourth limb” for a year now. We’ve worked with 14 different guitar players and haven’t been able to find the right person yet. I’ve missed it. On top of that, early this year, our drummer Joshua Harrison had to move on to Texas and leave the band behind, too. It’s been a rough few months.

The truth is, I personally needed the time off, too. We’ve been working on it for years now with no real breaks and no writing or tunes. Our last shows before tonight were in Alabama nearly 5 months ago.

A month or two ago, I decided that we needed to find a way to get back out there. So, I made a list of people who I’d like to have fill-in for us. To my surprise, my top choices for a drummer and guitarist said “yes”. Josh Couillard played on much of Satisfactionista and did a couple of months of shows with us back in ’07. And my first “real” band, Q-Sign, featured Andy Ainsworth on lead guitar. He also was the lead guitarist in Star Zero, which was the first band in which Frank played bass.

That being said, the highest compliment I can pay to Andy and Josh is that while we were doing our 40-minute dusting off, warm-up set, I never once felt like I needed to cue them or worry about the “new guys”. The four of us had exactly 1 practice together 5 days before this gig.

We simply set up outside on the concrete with a small p.a. Our friends from Monahan (and Great Society) invited us to participate and I thought this might be a low-key way of seeing if we could do it. We could.

This was not a “first show” as much as I thought it would be. This was just what we do and we found two guys who could walk right in and do it.

By the time we went on, it was dark. And there were no lights, which I hadn’t been expecting. You know me, when we’re onstage, I want some lights. Again, I told myself, this was a warm-up with and among friends. And it was.

We launched into “The Only Way” and it sounded like it was supposed to sound. I was surprised that everything was in place right from the start. It was a bit strange for me to do the solo, but we pulled it off. “Sometimes I’m Sam” followed. Andy left out a couple of licks, but added such perfect textures that it was just what was needed.

“Sadder Day” was just as you’d want. I still miss having another guitar player to take that big solo at the end so that I can work on building the dynamics but I am beginning to get comfortable with the solo. It felt good and there was a great round of applause for the song.

“Waiting For The Siren” felt a little out of place to me pacing-wise to be this early in the set, but we played it pretty well. “Scared Of Myself” found me slightly out of tune due to the outdoor humidity and temperature changes. It was slight. I doubt it was noticeable, but it was there for me.

We dug back out “I Won’t Stand Still” before slamming headfirst into “Phony”. If you know what “Phony” is supposed to be at a show, it still is. I cannot repeat enough how satisfying it was to be able to do a “first” performance with 2 guys and not have to worry about it or spend my time cueing.

“Towel Cape Song” followed and was full with Andy’s guitar added in. The funny thing to me is that the big “mistake” of the night was mine. I flubbed up the big ending and had a volume issue that left Frank hanging for a couple of seconds. Josh tried to cover me as well as he could. Ah well, it might as well have been me.

To close things out, I gave Andy my guitar and we launched into our cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”. We’ve been known to do it a few times and it’s never really rehearsed or taken seriously. It’s just something for fun, where I can leap around without a guitar and “front” the band. It was suitably fun and energetic. There was much hopping, mic stand swinging and falling and rolling on the concrete. I only have 2 bruises the day after the gig, so I’m not yet quite into the swing of things yet. Although one is bad enough to make it difficult to sleep. But if you do a full-contact rock show, you’re doing it wrong if you’re not at least sore the next day. I am.

The Critical Darlings are back. And we will always be back as long as I’m around.

Some shows will be a foursome like tonight. Some shows will just be me, Frank and Josh and who knows will be there for some of them. If I ever doubted that The Critical Darlings are The Critical Darlings whatever comes or goes, I don’t doubt it at all anymore.

I want to personally thank (in no order, of course) Cathy, Kristin, Danny, Ryan, Adam, Bruce, Daniel, Jazmyn, Amanda, the members of Monahan, Gimme Hendrix and Bubbly Mommy Gun, Amy, Ashton and...well...see, now I feel like I’m going to leave someone out. Thanks to everyone that was there for us or even that just came up, gave us a smile, a thumbs up and stuck around.

Next stop, May 13 at The Melting Point in Athens, Georgia with The Michael Guthrie Band and Vinyl Strangers.


Critical Darlings Set List (With Chris’ totally biased ratings):

The Only Way ****
Sometimes I’m Sam ***
Sadder Day ****
Waiting For The Siren ***
Scared Of Myself ***
I Won’t Stand Still ****
Phony ****
Towel Cape Song **
Rebel Rebel ***


P.S. We managed to get no pics of this show as there were problems with the camera’s flash and no stage lighting. If you were there and have a few pics you’d be willing to share, we’d be very thankful. Thanks!



*******Critical Update*******

If you've looked around the site, you'll notice we encourage you to comment and send in your thoughts & reviews on everything. (Scroll down some & you'll see another such request.)

Kristen Danch-Powell, a fan and friend from Athens, wrote up a show review in her blog, "Echoreyn of Athens."

Did she love the show? Or, did she fail the Darlings' return to the stage? I'm not telling! You'll just have to read it yourself! :)

Click here for Kristen's review!



Were you there?

Visit our Myspace or Facebook pages and tell us what you thought!


Email Chris and tell him you want to review the next show! We'll even post it!