Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
My formative music years, while I was in high school in the early-to-mid-1990s had very few components to them. There was Primus and the Meat Puppets - the first concert I ever attended with my friends, in the gymnasium of the college of chiropractic study here in Davenport, Iowa. There was Weezer, a band that my friends and I risked our lives to drive through a horrible ice storm (why our parents ever let us is still a mystery) the six hours to Minneapolis. And there was Chixdiggit, the at-the-time Sub Pop band from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, that we discovered through a bargain bin at a local record store. It was a non-descript promo copy of the group's debut album and we were immediately infatuated. It was the name, sure, but the gone-before-they-started, but sharp and hilarious songs about hockey players, Henry Rollins, pumping iron, GIRLS, going out on Friday and Saturday nights for good times and an overriding love of mothers, were what we were really into. It introduced us to Fat Wreck Chords and Lookout! bands and we were suddenly off into completely new directions. Shortly after we got our hands on that promo copy of "Chixdiggit!" the band came to Iowa City, where our oldest friend was a freshman at the University of Iowa. We drove the 45 minutes to attend our first show in a bar. Though it was a 21-and-up establishment, we got in, and it was one of those nights that kind of starts things. It was better than expected. It was more entertaining that we could have imagined and lead singer KJ Jansen's wide-legged, sprinter at the starting line guitar and singing stance was as good as they come. Chixdiggit was the band for us, we decided. Fast forward almost 20 years and the band, in a slightly altered incarnation of Jansen, guitarist Mark O'Flaherty, bassist Mike McLeod and drummer Jason Hirsch, are in the live room of the Horseshack with Kepi Ghoulie, who we originally met at a Chixdiggit show years and years earlier. It was a surreal experience, even if talk turned - as it inevitably does at our ages - to children, day jobs and how long of a drive or flight they have to get back to their Canadian homes. Jansen and O'Flaherty are the same men that they were when they were younger men, still living for the weekends, in the best possible ways. The music on the band's last two albums reflects that as well. Jansen still writes about love and girls in a way that's brutally honest. It's full of horniness, though nothing's ever crude, just the way that males see a pretty girl and suddenly feel their imaginations go off to the races. They can't help themselves. The horniness still comes off as incredibly romantic and sweet in nearly every place though. It's gentlemanly lust. I may have learned this from Chixdiggit/Jansen. We still abide by it. They are the big brothers I never had. It's great we could finally get them back down here from Canada. You'll hear the long and eventful (read: fun as hell) weekend spent in Green Bay and Chicago in Jansen's voice and we love to hear it because it's proof that great times do exist.