What do you say when one of your all-time favorite bands reunites to play a show in your town along with a legendary local band you’ve somehow never seen live? You probably tell a few close friends, then head down the street to pick up tickets before they sell out.
This was the situation Thursday, September 18 when Scared of Chaka took the stage for the first time in nearly 10 years in Minnesota, opening for hometown heroes Dillinger Four at the 7th Street Entry in downtown Minneapolis.
Referenced throughout the night as “the best lineup all year,” it was certainly in the top few, if not number one. With local noisemakers Birthday Suits, Off with Their Heads, Scared of Chaka reunited and Dillinger Four, it was certainly the best that I’d been to.
The Dynamiters kicked things off with garagey punk, a tad reminiscent of early RFTC / the Night Marchers and apparently boasting at least one former member of late local favorites Selby Tigers. Though fairly standard in their approach, they were the perfect band to set the mood of the evening and start getting people excited for what was to come.
Japanese-American punks Birthday Suits took the stage next. Had I not seen them performing at the Minnesota Museum of American Art five days prior, I would have never known they were just a two-piece, even after listening to their contribution “Twin Cities Bridge Is Falling Down” on Geykido Comet’s Teriyaki Suplexxx compilation for the better part of a year. Though the pair’s raucous mix of noise, punk and melody filled the 7th Street Entry, it wasn’t so loud that you couldn’t hear the jaws dropping of those seeing them for the first time.
The night also marked my first time seeing Off with their Heads, despite having seen various members around uptown Minneapolis throughout the last few months. They sounded good, and although I only recognized a few songs, I got a big kick out of vocalist Ryan Young gushing about Scared of Chaka and saying that they’re “really political” though "you can’t understand what they’re saying" before mumbling the melody of Scared of Chaka’s “Straight to the Office” and replacing the real words (whatever they may be) with something about Bush being in office.
Now it may be taboo to admit it, but Scared of Chaka is one of my favorite bands ever, despite that I only have one of their full-length albums. However, it is their seminal sophomore effort Masonic Youth, plus the kind folks at Hopeless/Subcity have speckled more recent Scared of Chaka tracks on many of their Hopelessly Devoted to You discs and other samplers/compilations. While I was slightly bummed they didn’t play more songs off Masonic Youth that I can remember, only covering “Toilet Duck” and “Goodsky,” they did play great Hopeless-era material like “All My Friends Are Ghosts,” “Why Are You Weird?” and “Glass Socket and a Broken Jaw.” Really, the only thing that could have been better is if they’d played “The Millionth Mile,” which is by far the greatest song in history.
Dillinger Four in Minneapolis. Need I say more? For the sake of description, I will. After five seconds of “NOBLE STABBINGS!!”, the stage was covered with beer, the monitors were slipping all over the place as the front row (myself included) tried to bear the thousands of pounds of people (Ryan Young included) piling on from behind. Along with favorites like “Maximum Piss and Vinegar,” "Doublewhiskeycokenoice" and “Mosh for Jesus,” D4 played several new songs from their upcoming LP C I V I L W A R in between Paddy slandering the college radio jerk in California who leaked their album and advising the audience to spread false internet gossip about the band recording with autotuners or something just for shits and giggles.
One of the highlights wasn’t even really related to the music, but the fact that all of the bands seemed to be as genuinely stoked about Scared of Chaka playing as I was. Though horrifically underrated in their time, the DIY shows the band played across the country in living rooms and basements to small Midwestern clubs helped bring up bands like Dillinger Four, who have of course ushered in their own wave of followers. So even though Dillinger Four headlined and played a great show, the night really belonged to Scared of Chaka for giving a late-blooming fanboy like me a second chance to witness their greatness firsthand.