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June 19, 2010


40 Watt Club
Athens, GA

With Mitch Easter,



By Chris McKay

What can I say? I was so thrilled to be on this bill. (Thanks to Cathy Edmonds for asking us to be a part of such a great night of music.)


Back in the early days of the band, I would’ve never guessed we’d be sharing the stage with some of the great people that we have. We were just playing for fun. And at this point, we’ve played with some pretty amazing groups. Being able to play before Mitch Easter was another one of those great experiences. 

I’m not going to lie. When we were asked to do it, I had a slight bit of concern with whether or not we’d fit musically. After Mitch started his set tonight, I realized that we were pretty right on for this bill. Mitch is a rocker. 

Magnapop are rockers, too. And while I didn’t get to see too much of their set (due to tear-down, load-out and some backstage antics), what I saw was suitably fist-pumping while not losing its sense of melody and harmony.


We did the same ol’ thing tonight. There were no twists and no turns. After tonight, I really feel like I have to start doing some new things. I think the newest song in the set list tonight was 4 years old. And some go back more than 10. I still like ‘em all, but we do have some really good new tunes waiting in the wings for their time. We need to give ‘em a chance.


It’s just as well, though, that we were playing the “standards” as we were introducing ourselves to most of the crowd. 

This was a listening audience. They sat and listened intently. We got a great response (especially for such an early start time) and everyone was welcoming and encouraging. Granted, it wasn’t a “full-contact” show like I love, but it was nice to be able to play for people that wanted to hear the songs. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean we were going to shoe-gaze in the sake of sonics. I took advantage of the newly expanded main speakers as well as the steel-covered onstage monitors. For the record, I did get permission from the staff before I put my body weight on ‘em.

Near the end of “Sadder Day”, I nearly twisted my body into a pile of flesh, but I recovered just before hitting the floor. It’s all on the video. Check it out if you wanna laugh at it. I’m cool with that.


As far as the show itself, we played pretty well. When I think about it, it kind of freaks me out that Andy and Josh C. are so tight that I already don’t have to think about them or worry about cuing them. They’ve got it down and that frees me to do my thing. That ain’t bad for only a couple of shows together. I’m thankful for both of them being there. I hope we get a chance to turn Andy loose. He’s a great lead guitarist and I want to show his playing off sooner than later. Right now, he’s almost exclusively rhythm except for the end of the night. Andy was the sole Darlings guitarist for the first time on “Happy Here And Now”. Me being me, I put a 2-inch long bruise above my right ankle somehow, but hey, what kind of rock show would it be without some skin discoloration?

Josh is making his presence known, too. His energy is contagious for me, and, I hope, for the audience. I never worry about Frank. Frank always holds down Frankland over on stage left. 

At the end of “Happy Here And Now”, I dashed offstage sweaty and pretty out-of-breath (or out-of shape). I wound up hitting Mitch’s dressing room for some ice water. I was thrilled and happy to hear that he dug the band. He had quite a few nice, encouraging things to say. He didn’t have to take the time to do that, and I really appreciated it. (And if he starts having a “rock star fan” onstage with him, it was my idea.) 



By some strange fluke of circumstance, early in Magnapop’s set, I wound up playing guitar backstage with Bill Berry (R.E.M.). He took my Hamer and I used my Strat to introduce a song idea that Bill had written with Mitch in mind. It was, in Bill’s words, a cross between The Raspberries and The Replacements. So we ran through it a few times while Mitch smiled broadly and the rest of those assembled listened in. It was a nice little moment, very relaxed and off-the-cuff. 

It was another one of those “Athens nights”. It was odd for me to be on the performer side rather than the photographer side, but I’m getting more comfortable jumping from one me to the other.


Thank you to Cathy Edmonds, Amanda, Kathee, Asa, Mike, Magnapop, Mitch Easter (and his band) and all of the friends who made it out to see us

Special thanks to Jenny Daniels for not only making it to the show (You know what I mean.) but for actually filming the entire gig. 

Thanks to Jenny, you can watch the whole thing right here.

Just click on any song title below to watch complete performances of any song you desire.

I won’t rate the songs for this show since you can watch ‘em all yourself! 


Critical Darlings Set List (June 19, 2010) / Click song title to watch video from this show.

1. The Only Way

2. Sometimes I’m Sam

3. Sadder Day

4. Phony

5. Waiting For The Siren

6. Scared Of Myself

7. Towel Cape Song

8. Happy Here And Now


Here's yer BONUS for this show. Frank and Chris were interviewed by WUGA's Robb Holmes in Athens on June 16 to preview this show. Click here to listen to the interview.


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