Friday August 21, 2009


The Local

With King's X

Marietta, GA


A Review by Mary Gadd

Hi there! It’s Mary, your Darling Webmistress! Only this time I’m on the other side of things… writing a show report.  See, I don’t write too many of these things, so be kind. (Actually I think I’ve written one- maybe 2, but I think just one. Admittedly, that sounds shameful, but I edit quite a few of them, add my little comments in here and there and format and post them all, which includes reminding the guys to get them written- lol- so I think I get a reprieve.) :) So, here we are with my review #2 (...or 3).      


(Photo by Perry Julien)


Let’s start with a little background. If you'll recall, at the end of May, the Darlings said goodbye to Joe, who went on to do his own thing. Since then, the band’s been contemplating whether to remain a power-trio or hire a new guitarist and go back to being a foursome again. Along with a heavy touring schedule since Satisfactionista was first announced, this quandary produced a unique situation for Chris, Frank, and Josh. They decided to take a much needed break from touring and do some soul-searching. The funny thing about changes and difficulty is that they will forever leave their mark on you- good or bad.

So, being confronted with change- both personal and professional, the Critical Darlings have made the most of it by throwing everything into their music and becoming hardcore creative of late. Not only have they been experimenting with new and different sounds and ideas, but Chris and the guys have recorded, re-recorded and pulled out of the woodwork nearly 100 demos they are now letting their fans download for free and rate which ones should be on their next album. There’s more info on that here:


(Photo by Perry Julien)


Now, I’m told that it’s very difficult to switch from “creative mode” to “show mode” when you’re a musician and it’s probably that much harder when you’re re-discovering yourself as a band. However, when the opportunity to play with King’s X came up, it was an offer the Darlings couldn’t refuse. (Just ask Chris about his thoughts on King’s X- let’s just say he’s a big fan.)


In the weeks prior to the show, there seemed to be some anxiety. Would they get a guitarist to play that one show so Chris could put his guitar down and be his crazy frontman self? Would having a fourth member there take some of the pressure off so they wouldn’t be a power-trio going up before one of the most talented power-trios of the last 20 years? Who would sing harmonies? By not touring, were they too out of practice to ROCK an audience most certainly full of fellow musicians (King’s X main fanbase)? Would a couple of temperamental amps hold up long enough to get them through the show? After a couple of practice sessions the week before the show, some questions were beginning to get answered and worked out. They would go on as a power-trio. Josh got a crash-course in harmonies and it was decided he would showcase his singing abilities in front of King’s X- a band known for their incredibly tight harmonies. (Talk about intimidating!!) As for everything else, the show was fast approaching and the guys had done all they could. Finally, Friday night, it was show time.

(Photo by Susie Cerrutto of Shock And Awe Productions)



The Local is a really cool venue with a really great stage set-up that looks like it should be ITP (that’s “Inside the Perimeter”- or the city limits- for you non-ATL folks) and not located in a large room connected to a sports bar in Marietta. When I arrived about thirty minutes early, all of the guys were already doing their individual pre-show rituals. They looked great, perhaps a little nervous, but pumped with adrenaline. Although I had full confidence that these three could pull off the show with flying colors (I’d seen them do it last summer at Star Bar), it was good to see the band more excited than nervous. While briefly catching up with everyone and gauging their feelings before they went on, I was introduced to a former bandmate of Chris’s from Q-Sign. As Chris explained to me in his introduction of Andy, “he was the one responsible for making me learn lead guitar!” (And Andy, for that… the Darling fans thank you!)


(Photo by Perry Julien)


As I mentioned before, King’s X fans are, for the most part, musicians and you could tell by looking at the crowd- mostly men with either shaved heads or ponytails. I’m awful at estimating numbers, but in addition to the Darlings’ fans, a good number of King’s X fans showed up early enough to see the Darlings, who were the first ones up at 8:30.  


(Photo by Perry Julien)


They started with a great rock song- Until The Road Ends. You could tell the crowd suddenly became more interested as the front of the stage filled in and camera flashes started going off all around. By the third song, Waiting For The Siren, this rock crowd was hooked- it was obvious by the mass head bobbing during this Critical Darlings’ disco song. (Rock fans digging a disco song? I thought “Disco Sucks!”? This crowd obviously didn’t think so… at least not the way the Darlings play it!!) The real kick in the face was, of course, Phony. While Chris’s guitar solo always brings down the house, it really made an impression on this crowd. You had guys in the front row bowing to him and his guitar and I even saw a couple of guys playing air guitar. That was pretty amusing, but, in retrospect, I think it’s a compliment and really a testament to how much ROCK the band was throwing at us.

It was also during Phony that Josh’s harmonies were really put on display. They sounded great… spot-on. And it was around this point that Chris called Josh out. It went something like this: Chris starts talking about how their guitarist had left the band not too long ago and that meant they all had to step-up their game and quickly reorganize as a trio. He went on to explain how this was especially true for Josh ::Bright spotlight on Josh:: who had learned all of the harmonies for this show in about a week. The crowd went crazy with applause, hands in the air, yelling “No way!” and “Rock on!” It was a great moment of reinforcement for the whole band and they looked overjoyed. I even saw a smile on Frank’s face!! (A rarity while he’s onstage, as he seems to go into his own world of bass playing and awesome dancing. I always try to watch to see if there’s a pattern to his swagger and sway and I haven’t found one yet, but I will… oh yes, I will figure out Frank’s sweet moves!) :)




(Photo by Perry Julien)   



I have nothing bad to say about the show... And neither did anyone else. While sitting at the bar with Frank and Josh, our conversation kept being interrupted by members of the second band coming up and telling them how great they did. I didn’t mind, though… I was proud of them and they deserved the props. Chris, who stayed inside to check out the second band, received the same star treatment and even got some amusing comments about how unnecessary a fourth member was and how you’d have to be crazy to leave such ROCK behind. Nice!



(Photo by Susie Cerrutto of Shock And Awe Productions)


Set List

1. Until The Road Ends
2. Sadder Day
3. Waiting For The Siren
4. Scared Of Myself
5. I Won't Stand Still
6. Phony
7. Towel Cape Song



Chris and Amanda with King’s X

(Photo by Joshua Harrison)


Maybe someone else will tell y'all about King’s X or we'll just leave it at this, as I missed the first part of their performance and had to leave after the first encore song. I heard the band had good things to say about the Darlings, even calling them “the real thing.” Very cool. As for King’s X’s music, I was pretty impressed by what I could hear. I’m looking forward to hearing their studio albums, as their story and progression as a band is quite interesting from what I’ve been told.


Update!! While working on (his photography and music reviews site), Chris wrote about the King's X portion of the show. So, jump over there and go read about that here:



(Photos by Perry Julien)


Click here for more pics of Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings at The Local.



(Photo by Susie Cerrutto of Shock And Awe Productions)



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All pictures by Amanda McKay unless otherwise indicated. Copyright 2009.