Friday January 16, 2009

Columbus, GA





The Critical Darlings made the long trek back to Columbus on Friday, January 16. I was sweating it. I didn't get to leave home until about 6:30 pm. It's a 3-hour drive on a good day from Athens to Columbus. I'm happy to say that there was only one accident to contend with around Atlanta. The rest of the trip was as good as it gets.

It was cold. The forecast had said that temperatures would be in the single digits. I was very worried that my (amp) tubes would explode from coming in and out of the club. I was worried about a lot. I was also using a new guitar set up tonight for the first time.

When I finally made it to the club, I remembered what I like and don't like about Soho. Actually, there are only two things I don't like. One is the distance. The other is the cigarette smoke. It seems like everyone smokes there. Other than that, it's a great place to put on a rock show. The whole staff is pro and there are no silly little problems. When a problem does arrive, it gets fixed and sorted lightning fast.

Alice Barkwell, who did that massive article on us in the current Playgrounds Magazine, had come out to see us. So did Dusty who we met when we played at SoHo last May. I wanted to play great just for them. Then add in our friends from The Pinx who we were sharing the stage with and I wanted this to be a great show. And you know what? It was pretty good.

We actually had a false start right at the top. I launched into "Look Back In Anger" and no one joined me. I'd forgotten that we hadn't written out set lists. So we laughed it off, I notified everyone of what we were playing, and we launched into our first full length set since last October.

During "Look Back In Anger", "The Only Way" and "Sometimes I'm Sam" there was some sorting of Frank's sound but apparently no one heard it out front. In fact, we had underwear thrown on the stage by the end of the opening shot (unfortunately male!) and someone was shouting for certain members of the Darlings to wear less clothes.

By "Into My View", the sound was great. It felt powerful and strong. This song really is a great one to do and I'm always surprised that we don't play it more often than we do, especially since we added the "Something Unseen" guitar duel to it. Josh was really pumping up the energy and despite the cold outside, it had already gotten ridiculously hot on that stage.

"Sadder Day" was not as good as it always has been but it was pretty good. I'm looking forward to it getting back up to par as it's a favorite. The last couple of shows, it hasn't quite been "there" for me. Maybe it's just me. I don't know.


I was especially proud of how good the vocals sounded. I introduced Joe at the end after the solo and someone yelled out "Guitar hero!" so I said, "Yep, Joe's a guitar hero. He recently rushed into a burning building and saved a guitar so he is indeed a "guitar hero"."

"Rage On" and "Towel Cape Song" are both back up to where they need to be musically. The a capella ending of "Rage On" was possibly the best it's ever been and "Towel Cape" felt nice and heavy for a popper. After "Tonight Never Happened", Adam from The Pinx asked if that one was our epic. I just wished we could perform "Something Unseen" in its entirety so people could hear the real epic!

I was about to start into "I Won't Stand Still / Phony" when we had a request shouted to us from Dusty. We certainly didn't want to disappoint anyone coming out to see us on a night like tonight. Of course, he picked one of the songs that we've played the least and haven't done in a long time. But we did it anyway. "I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)" was almost perfect and it rocked. I was again happy to be reminded of how many good songs we have in our catalog. It ain't bad for only two albums!

"Phony" rocked extra hard tonight. Having a pumping sound system amped things up considerably. I enjoyed playing the solo in a more internal way. I felt like I was watching someone else do it tonight. It was strange.

Joe requested "disco lights" for "Waiting For The Siren" and Josh bounded into it. This was the best we've done this one in recent memory. Not only that, it was the first time we've ever done it with a wah pedal on the solo thanks to my new rig. It's only a few measures but it really adds to the groove.

"Scared Of Myself" was intentionally slower and darker tonight and when we hit the heavier second verse, it was pretty powerful. I'm so glad we went ahead and put this song on the new album. It almost didn't make it.




After that, I put down the guitar for what's usually the most fun part of the show for me. It wasn't as much fun as usual due to the cigarette smoke and intense heat but it was still a good time. I had to pace myself more than usual. I tried to get in just enough insanity without keeling over during "Happy Here And Now" (especially after nearly injuring myself not once but twice the last time we did it)!

I intended to wrap up with the next song. "Rebel Rebel" was chosen. I saw Alice and a few other people singing along. It wasn't as tight as it was at Wonderroot (the last time we did it) but it got the job done. I was spent. I looked back and could tell Josh was too. We were being encouraged to do more so we pulled out the only other "encore" song we have somewhat prepared at the moment.

Josh started off "Dancing With Myself" and we ripped into it. It was fairly sloppy and I know Frank inverted a whole chord section. Here's hoping the leaping around disguised it. Joe took off on his crazy solo as we neared the end. I had to keep dousing myself with ice water. It was indeed rock and/or roll. As the finale loomed, I leaned into Josh and got him to go faster and faster and faster and to my surprise, neither of his arms detached and flew into the audience (although that may have been a great finish too)!



After the show, I hung around for the while and let me say, The Pinx absolutely smoked. I wish I didn't have so far to go home so I could've seen the whole set. In fact, I even went up on stage with them and did backup vocals on their John Lennon by way of Cheap Trick cover of "I'm Losing You". I have a feeling we'll be collaborating again.

Oh yes, and I got a kick out of the fact that Adam described the Critical Darlings as being "two scoops of ice cream on your favorite two breasts". I can't even add anything to that comment!




Critical Darlings Set List For January 16, 2009
(with Chris' entirely biased "star ratings")

1. Look Back In Anger**
2. The Only Way**
3. Sometimes I'm Sam**
4. Into My View / Unseen****
5. Sadder Day***
6. Rage On****
7. Towel Cape Song****
8. Tonight Never Happened***
9. I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)***
10. I Won't Stand Still****
11. Phony****
12. Waiting For The Siren****
13. Scared Of Myself****
14. Happy Here And Now****
15. Rebel Rebel***
16. Dancing With Myself***



So yes, let me thank Dusty, Vickie, Alice, the staff of Soho and The Pinx for another good night at Soho. Now that we're 2 fer 2, I'll look forward even more to the next time!



(Mary's Note: Can Chris get some serious air or what?)












All pictures by Amanda McKay. Copyright 2009.