Saturday, October 29, 2011

Drunk fun with Kepi and Chixdiggit

Groovie Ghoulies' World Contact Day was one of my five favourite albums of 1996 and the Sacramento, Calif. pop-punk band was a very entertaining live act back in those days as well. The group has pretty much flown below my radar for most of this century, however, and broke up in 2007. But lead singer/bassist Kepi Ghoulie hasn't retired.

Kepi showed up at Toronto's Sneaky Dee's on Thursday night with Chixdiggit — fronting a set of his own with the headliners backing him and then taking a secondary role as bassist with Chixdiggit when guitarist K.J. Jansen shifted to centre stage for the second set.

Like with his previous band, Kepi plays short, sharp bursts of music grounded in '60s garage rock and pop and '70s Ramones-styled punk. His 12-song set included "Supermodel," "Hey Kepi Let's Go," "Girlfriend," Chixdiggit's "Quit Your Job," "Chupacabra" (his own song, not the Chixdiggit one), "Love On Demand," "The Beast With Five Hands," covers of Chuck Berry's "Don't Lie To Me" and "All Aboard," and lots of comedic banter in between.

The clock struck midnight and it was time for Chixdiggit's first Toronto performance in eight years. I believe I went for Mexican food and whiskey sours with the group, Fat Wreck's Melanie Kaye and a few other friends before that show, and it seems hard to believe that it was that long ago.

The Calgary band is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and playing all-request shows in response, but Jansen conceded that it couldn't play every song called out by audience members because it had forgotten how to play some of them. The passing of time seemed to mean less to many in the crowd, who were singing along to songs as if they heard them on the radio every day.

"Welcome To The Daiso" opened the proceedings, and the race through snotty three-chord pop-punk songs began. Personal favourite "I Feel Like Gerry Cheevers," "Gettin' Air," "Miso Ramen," "I Drove the Coquihalla," "Chupacabra," "Found Love," "I Remember You," "Spanish Fever," "Henry Rollins Is No Fun," "Where's Your Mom," "I Should Have Played Football in Highschool" and "I Wanna Hump You" were included in a 50-minute set.

But the boys weren't done yet. Kepi is apparently shooting a Chixdiggit documentary with his iPhone (he put it in his mouth and filmed during "Spanish Fever") and there was more potential footage to be had.

Jansen, with his trademark "Let's hear it for that" line, was as funny as Kepi in between songs. He's slightly bulkier than eight years ago, so perhaps that had something to do with him not utilizing another signature move: placing his mic extra low and singing from an awkward-looking position.

Despite becoming a father over the past few years (his wife is Kathy Camaro from The Riff Randells), Jansen still likes to drink while on the road and said he was feeling the effects of quite a few -- egged on by Kepi's chants of "Get drunk!"

Jansen's voice was a bit strained after some recent misbehaving in Halifax, and it showed when he returned to the stage alone for "Born in Toulouse." His bandmates helped him finish the song and stayed on for an encore that was almost as long as the main set and included "Ohio," "Quit Your Job," "Hot N Horny," "You're Pretty Good," "Thursday Night," "Toilet Seat's Coming Down," "My Restaurant," "J Crew" and "Geocities Kitty."

I was feeling lethargic from a cold and apparently missed the most exciting ending ever to a World Series game to attend the show, but the enjoyment derived from those three hours helped make me feel a bit better the next morning — and I probably exceeded my healthy quota of baseball-watching weeks ago anyway.

This was a nostalgic trip, but the good times still resonate.

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