The Rock Star is In the House

with Groovy Ghoulies
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Tuesday, May 19, 1998

Review by Dorothy Parvaz
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

[ed. Photographs are on their way... ]

It should've been a rawkin' show, but the whole night was kinda strange, and somewhat lacking in rawkin' vibes.

The Groovy Ghoulies kicked off the night with "Ghoulies are Go!" It should have sent the place into a frenzy, but didn't. Oh well, unruffled, the GGs went on, thanking the audience for showing up to see them instead of going to see Godzilla. Of course, the movie hadn't opened yet, but that's not the point.

It's hard to slag these guys because they're kind of fun to watch, but dammit, their entire set just seemed like one long song -- kind of like their disc, WorldContactDayRe-AnimationFesitvalGraveyardGirlfriend (what do you mean these are all separate discs?!?!). Guess this is what the Ramones would sound like today if they weren't such burn-outs.

Even though every song sounded the same (only some were slightly faster than others), the Groovy Ghoulies were still cool to see because vocalist Kepi is such a spaz. He sounds like someone's pissed-off, cranky boyfriend (heck, maybe he is someone's pissed-off, cranky boyfriend).

Anyone who has seen the Groovy Ghoulies before knows that their shows are generally chaotic, flailing free-for-alls, but not this time. For some reason, their set was pretty flat. Must have been something in the air, because Chixdiggit had some freaky thing going on too.

The playful Calgary quartet ripped into their set with a healthy dose of energy, and favorites like "323" and "Where's Your Mom?" went off without a hitch. To prove just how laissez faire they were about the show, they even played "Quit Your Job" twice (three times?) because the Groovy Ghoulies (who were now manning the T-shirt booth and hollering requests at the stage) asked them to.

Chixdiggit's music is neither cerebral nor inventive -- it's just bouncy fun. You should see this band if you get the chance, if only to check out frontman KJ Jansen's adductors: magnus, longus and brevis. Yessir, Jansen's groin muscles are note-worthy. He was practically doing the splits throughout the show (as usual), with his mic placed only about three feet off the ground, so he could either A) bend over, B) get on his knees or C) stand with his legs spread at a 145-degree angle. Naturally, he went for the third, more impressive option.

Anyway, they banged out a few tunes, some off their new album, Born on the First of July, and things were just humming along; the band sounded good, new drummer and all, the crowd was singing along...

Then the mood started getting sour.

Get this: Jansen stopped two songs several times because he didn't like the fact that the one guy moshing up front was bumping into his friend Lori from Calgary. Now, don't get me wrong, getting knocked around in the pit isn't (always) my idea of fun, but I also know enough to get out of the way. The way I figure it, Lori could've easily moved her delicate double-X-chromosome-bearing self about 5 feet backwards or sideways, thereby sparing herself some bruises and the audience Jansen's tantrum.

Dunno what got into the guy -- he sure wasn't like this the last time I saw the band, and there was far more pit action going on then, let me tell you -- but somehow, this didn't seem to be about Jansen's overwhelming concern for the audience. Rather it was about him getting his way. Holding his breath until he turned blue would have been less irritating. As it was, he halted "Sikome Beach" and "Henry Rollins is No Fun" three times until he got his way.

"Is there a bouncer in the house?" he hollered, pissed-off that he couldn't control the one unruly mosher. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wanted to yell, "Is there a rock star in the house?" Christ, that poor fellow paid his $8, and it's not like he was ultra-violent. The bouncer, by the way, sort of casually escorted the guy out. This guy wasn't a threat, and the bouncer knew it. Getting the crowd to cheer once the guy got kicked out was another classy move on Jansen's part.

The set went on once the poor mosher got ejected from the club. The band discussed bassist Mike Eggermont's foreskin, did the "Let's hear it for the Groovy Ghoulies" bit about 10 times too many, and even got Dave Alcock to toss out a ska beat on the drums.

"Let's get this crowd skankin'," Jansen suggested. Yeah, why don't you do that KJ, then have 'em all tossed out for bumping into each other?

Yeah, that would be swell.

Had there been fewer distractions, ahem, Chixdiggit's set would've really gone off. Maybe next time...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 16, 1998

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