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No Más for the Vatos Rudos

Los Skarnales go the way of all flesh

Gaitan says he found himself feeling almost as if he was still that high school-age fan he once was. "If somebody said it was gonna be the end of something, I would want to check it out one last time," he says. "And it's not the last time, really, because it's not like we died or something. We are all gonna be doing our thing -- but this specific group of six musicians had a chemistry. This band has seen 35 members -- we had a high turnover rate."

And now that chemistry is scattered over four bands -- five if you count whatever it is Galvan will cook up. Among them are the Trenchtown Texans and Gaitan's gypsy/jazz/ska band called the Umbrella Man, which also features fellow Skarnal Beans Wheeler on drums. Gaitan is hoping that each of the embers from the explosion of Skarnales will start fires just as big. "I just hope that people are supportive of the bands we are all in now," he says. "All of us -- Felipe, Robert, Ryan, Beans, everybody."

But as he said, Los Skarnales had a chemistry. They were more than the sum of their parts. When they were on, they were the best band in Houston, perhaps in Texas, and Gaitan was always a world-class frontman -- easily the best in town the past ten years. As of right now, none of the side project bands have his brand of charisma behind the mic, nor do any of them feature that weird cast of characters -- a couple of Anglo punks alongside a rockabilly cat next to a zoot-suited pachuco next to a Tejano charro.

In a year that has seen so many Houston institutions crumble to dust, this one will hurt as much as any. Los Skarnales kicked ass seven ways to Sunday. All us perdidos y borrachos will have to find another band to get drunk and lost to. As somebody wrote on their iTunes page, speaking of the 2004 classic Pachuco Boogie Sound System, "Es un must have for all you 'chucos, cholos, chuntaros y también los peckerwoods. Los Skarnales rifan!"

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