Beware the Tornado 

Scared of Chaka are Worth the Risk

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Everybody has bands they're inordinately geeky about. For me that'd be Bob Dylan, the Pretenders, and Scared of Chaka. You've likely heard of the first two; the latter, maybe not. And there's some reason for that—SOC has been on a lengthy hiatus since their last record came out in 2001. But even prior to that, the band was always something of a secret. Despite their pop-punk being as infectious as Hepatitis A on a hot summer day, I didn't even catch the fever until late 2000, during the band's swan song after seven full years of steady in-the-van, 'round-the-world rock 'n' roll evangelism.

And my life hasn't been the same since. In fact it's been much worse. For some reason, every time the tornado that is Scared of Chaka comes close to me, I get sucked up in storm clouds. Within months of seeing my first Chaka show, I'd set fire to my Portland life and get on a one-way train to NYC. Six months later they were slated to play New York on September 13, 2001—I wrote up the album for the Village Voice—but fuckin' terrorists shelved both the festival and my piece. Shortly after that the band split up. Lead singer/songwriter Dave Hernandez joined the Shins, drummer Ron Skrasek began a successful career in the Portland film scene, and the revolving cast of bass players pursued greener pastures in country music, restaurateuring, and clothing design.

Fast-forward seven years and the band was slated to play a one-off reunion show in Reno. Unfortunately, the Scared of Chaka tornado killed my grandma, and I nearly had to miss the show to sing in church in South Dakota. Five months later and—hallelujah!—Chaka's got a handful of festival shows booked, but there's that goddamned tornado again: I found a lump in my breast and was promptly scheduled for a double mastectomy on September 5.

Oh well, what're ya gonna do? At least I get to see the show. It'll be my boobs' last night on the town, and I'm thrilled that it'll be scored by Scared of Chaka. It's like they've got the blood of thousands of New Yorkers, dear old Grannie, and now my tiny tits on their hands. That's a lot of blood, but I swear it's been worth it.

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