Thursday May 30, 2009


The Rocket Club
Asheville, NC
(Joe Orr's farewell show)




Review by Joshua Harrison

Somewhere past the plethora of Mexican restaurants on White Horse Rd, past the Dixie store flying the confederate flag at Travelers Rest, driving the fringe of Greenville, South Carolina where the hills start to merge and form into the majesty of the Appalachian Mountains, it hits you: You’re journeying on a path leading back in time. You’re going to Asheville, NC. If you’ve taken that drive you know what I’m talking about. Once you drive into those mountains between Greensville and Hendersonville your soul changes. It becomes warmer and more light-hearted. Altitude does that to you. There is no cell signal to be had so if you chose to take this journey bring great music and roll those windows down. I suggest something chill. Maybe some Celtic folk music to set the mood right. 



I’ve taken this trip many times since I’ve lived in and left Asheville, NC. It was a bittersweet parting. I left behind many of my dearest friends in those old mountains. But I’ve since found something more fulfilling, something that sets my spirit right. This, my friends, is the Critical Darlings. With them I can cope with the unforgiving heat, the fandom hysteria, and the impenetrable subculture of Athens, GA. But that’s all in the past now. Since being part of the band and bonding with its members, I’ve always wanted to get them to Asheville. To experience Asheville and see what it has to offer- to see belly dancers at Hookah Joes, to dance in Prichard Park, to drink coffee at World Coffee, to have a pint at Jack of the Wood, to listen to world music at the Bobo Gallary, etc.- is to truly understand me. Well, on April 30, 2009 I finally got my wish.




We all arrived at the Rocket Club in Asheville around 6pm. Things began simply enough; gear was brought in and the members of the band all settled in. Then the confusion started. Apparently NO ONE was in charge. Now the Darlings aren’t stuck up in any way. We don’t expect a whole lot from a venue when we go to play. But not having ANY idea of what to do or who to talk to was rough. We set up our gear by direction of one person, only to have it taken down and moved by someone else to make way for another band. Chris, Frank, Gina, Amanda and I just decided to go to the Westville Pub to get away from the madness. The universe has a way of working itself out. And when we got back to the Rocket Club it had. Except for one problem. The closing band, Jen and the Juice, was demanding that they go on no later than 11pm. Under that scenario, being that there were 3 bands- Due Panic, us, and them- Due Panic and the Critical Darlings would be royally f*#ked. So we all made a deal: Due Panic and the Darlings would cut down their set to allow Jen and her band to go on around 11:30pm.


You might be wondering. “What is it about Jen and the Juice that makes them so important as to mess up TWO other bands sets?” I’d answer to you, "That is a great question." The supposed answer was that they could bring a MASSIVE draw to the show. That’s why they were added to the show after the Darlings and Due Panic already had it set up. Well my friends, this was not the case. As we found out, the main reason for the lack of a "massive" crowd was that the show cost $11 to get in! None of us knew that going into the show. It was the Manager of Jen and the Juice that demanded this for the band to play, so I harbor no ill will towards the band. They are a fun band that I have enjoyed on past nights in Asheville. They were all friendly to us. But that manager… he screwed everybody. Enough said about that.



Here’s the abbreviated set list that we performed at The Rocket Club:

1. The Only Way
2. Sadder Day
3. Rage On
4. Phony
5. Scared Of Myself
6. Waiting For The Siren
7. Happy Here And Now


It always takes a few songs to really get the groove going but we didn’t have that option this time. That’s why I’m proud to say that every member of the Darlings rocked from the word GO. We made some new friends that night. We now have some extended members of the Darlings Family in Raven, her fiancÚ Joshua, and Scott the booking agent for Due Panic.

Probably the funniest/ awkward moment for me was right before “Waiting for the Siren” when Chris said, “Ok. So Josh has been telling me all about how people like to dance in Asheville…” And, of course to my embarrassment, everyone was sitting down. Luckily Raven and Gina were up to the challenge of shaking some booty for the Darlings delight. I still stick with saying that people love to dance in Asheville. We just didn’t have THAT crowd in the audience that night. But go to the drum circle at Prichard Park on Friday night and you’ll see what I mean.



A very important thing to add is that this show marks the end of a chapter in Critical Darling history. Our guitarist, Joe Orr, has now officially left the Critical Darlings. It marks a sad but hopeful time in our history. We never want to stop growing musically or as people. This gives us an opportunity to work with new individuals to shape the Darlings sound. A little know fact about Joe Orr is that he saved the Critical Darlings. At a period of time when Chris and Frank were fed up with drummer drama and wanted to stop playing, Joe Orr came along and put the wind back in their sails to keep them going. His coming to the band is the only way I was able to ever move to Athens and join the band. I will be forever grateful to him. Thanks Joe.




Stay tuned for other updates from the Critical Darlings. Until next time, be Zen my friends.



Click here for more pics of Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings at The Rocket Club in Asheville.


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All pictures by Amanda McKay. Copyright 2009.