Concert Review: Social Distortion: 9:30 Club Washington DC (11/07/12)

 Good day all,

Social Distortion has been an important part of the punk landscape for decades and their two-night sold-out performances at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club is proof of that. I have personally been a fan of the bands since the beginning, hearing the opening guitar crunch of Mommy’s Little Monster made me a fan in just that instant. From there on in whatever Mr. Ness and Co. did I was going to listen to and be a part of for the long haul. Now this band is and always has been Mike Ness’ band and the revolving door of musicians that have made their way in and out has not complicated the sound of Social Distortion as a whole. Primarily because Mr. Ness has always had a simple formula for his music, punk with a rockabilly swagger a country tinge and enough radio friendliness to have a large fan base.

Being a fan of Social Distortion for as long as I have been one would assume that I have been able to see them in concert before, but alas, I have not. Wednesday night (November 7) is the first real opportunity I have had to see the band and I looked forward to experiencing the band live for the first time. The 9:30 Club is a great place to see a show; it is intimate enough to feel part of the music but opened enough not to get claustrophobic at the same time. Plus they have a great selection of craft beers in their downstairs bar and to me that was a plus! There were two opening bands for this show, the Biters and Lindi Ortega neither of which I saw as we didn’t arrive at the venue until right before Social Distortion came on, they were scheduled to start at 10:00 and they started on-time which as far as I am concerned is a major plus.

Anyway, Mr. Ness and his band hit the stage opening the night by flying right into “I was Wrong” and getting the crowd into a frenzy early. At this point I felt that Mike Ness’ microphone was a little off and it was hard to hear what he was singing. Most probably didn’t notice as fans of Social Distortion usually know all the words to the songs; one thing you can always count on from Mike Ness is writing songs that are easy to follow and sing along to. Probably the reason we all still care about Social Distortion at this point. Anyway the set moved along solidly with the band playing all of the popular songs that one would expect from Social Distortion with wicked versions of “So Far Away”, ” Machine Gun Blues”,  “Ball and Chain” “Story of my Life” and all of the others hit songs we know and love from the band. The band was pretty tight throughout the whole set with Mr. Ness taking his time to talk with the crowd and he seems to have a good time with a little back and forth banter with the crowd. One thing is for sure Mike Ness still knows how to be a great front man!

As the set concluded we were treated to the encore which was set up with the popular “Black Magic”Company C”, “ Don’t Drag Me Down”, and the crowd loving Johnny Cash cover “ Ring of Fire”. The night ended just as strong as it had begun. The crowd a mix of old-school punk loving fanatics (like me) and the younger crowd seemed to have a great time going over the greatest hits collection of one of the best bands on that side of the punk scene. It does help that Mike Ness knows how to write a radio friendly version of his music that allowed the amalgam of people to sell out this concert. It goes to show that some music really does break the cultural divide. 

I was extremely happy that I was finally able to see Social Distortion and the band played so cohesively that it didn’t seem like Mike Ness and a backing band but a solid collection of artists who loved and understand the music they are playing and who they are playing it for. I will give it to you even though Mike Ness looks like my father at this point of his life; he put on a show that a much younger artist would have probably struggled to get through with that much energy and fun. Good for Mike Ness to get past his personal troubles of the past and still be able to rock out the way he did on Wednesday night. I hope that I have another opportunity to see Social Distortion in the future because as I found out Wednesday night it is well worth the time. But next time can we do it before 10:00?

Until Later, Peace!



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