Critics' Picks

Groovie Ghoulies

I first saw the Groovie Ghoulies three years ago at the now defunct Argo in Denton, opening up for The Queers. After the other support act, the Lillingtons, finished its set, the club's lights came down and only the orange and red lights came back on. Taking the stage bathed in an eerie glow, frontman Kepi stepped up to the microphone and intoned in a nasal, almost alien voice: "We are the Groovie Ghoulies and we have come to rock."

Which is exactly what they proceeded to do. With black greasepaint smeared around his eyes like the Lone Ranger and wearing a Planet of the Apes T-shirt, Kepi pogoed around the tiny stage wildly, hopping around to the beat, flailing away on his purple, homemade-looking bass and singing about monsters like Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, and "The Beast With Five Hands." Backed by his graveyard girlfriend (well, wife of 10 years, actually), Roach, the songs about friendly aliens, love in graveyards, and ghastly fun connected with the mostly teenage crowd. Throwing dollar-store Halloween knickknacks into the audience--plastic spider rings and Chinese finger traps, among others--let the kids know it was OK to have a silly time as well.

From that moment, it was obvious that though the Ghoulies share enough of an affinity for monsters and outer space to place it into a horror-punk genre with bands such as the Misfits (and Dallas' own Riot Squad/Staggers, to some extent), it's clearly not in the same graveyard. There's a world of difference between "Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight?" and "You're My Vampire Girl" and "Island of Pogo Pogo." Besides, Kepi, Roach, and company know how to have fun, a concept Glenn Danzig is only tangentially aware of.

Still, because the Ghoulies are about as scary as Casper the Friendly Ghost, they have felt a critical sting that their songs aren't adult enough and that they have a one-track mind. For comparison, the following diverse and mind-bending songs are from the set list of the Ramones' first show in 1974: "I Don't Wanna Go Down in the Basement," "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You," "I Don't Wanna Be Learned, I Don't Wanna Be Tamed," "I Don't Wanna Get Involved With You," and "I Don't Like Nobody That Don't Like Me." That, from a show many people would gladly sell their second kidney to have been in attendance. The Groovie Ghoulies perform June 15 at Galaxy Club. Buck, previously scheduled to open, has canceled.

Yuval Weber

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