For as far back as this OC music fan can remember, the ultimate way to cap off a long week of slacking working for the man has always been to rock the fuck out at a punk rock show on Friday night. Add to that scenario that it’s the Friday before a long weekend and Social Distortion is playing said show, and you’ve got a bonafide alibi for some serious depravity.
And if front man Mike Ness’ 30-plus years in the business have taught him anything, it’s that when playing to veteran fans, there’s no room for being cookie cutter and catering to the masses.
Case in point, the band’s most radio-friendly hit-“Ball and Chain”-was notably missing (but
not sorely so) from Friday night’s set, which sent a clear message to the audience: If you came to hear the popular hits, kindly take your ass back to your dorm room and get back to fluffin’ up your Bieber ‘do, cus this ain’t no Chris Brown Grammy party.
As the only remaining original member of the group, Ness served out his wrong-side-of-the-tracks swag like the elder statesman of the OC underground music scene, managing to keep things fresh and sexy in the process. Scoping the crowd and nodding in approval at the swirling pit of shirtless, tatted-down young dudes cruising for a bruisin’ in the center of the floor, Ness thrived off the brash energy as he normally does; even joining in on the perennial “fuck authority” attitude that is the band’s bread and butter, by talking smack on everything from the city of Oakland, to the venue’s rival across the street, the Glass House.
“It’s great to be here, Pomona,” Ness sneered midway through the show. “Much nicer here than at the ‘Ass House’ across the street. You know why they call it the ‘Ass House’,” he quipped, “Cus it sounds like ass”!!
Also on Ness’ shit list, apparently, are the Northern California cities of Bakersfield and Oakland, the former after which he penned the honky-tonk tune, “Bakersfield,” off the band’s most recent studio release, 2011’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.
Angry rants about unfortunate California locales aside, Ness did make it a point to make ensure his overall disdain for mainstream society doesn’t get misconstrued for any certain racial groups when he said the following: “Racism is alive and well in America, let me tell you,” Ness said. “I experienced it in the mid-’90s, I still see it once in a while. But I’ll tell you what, there ain’t no room for it at a Social D. show. There never has been, never will be. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
Critic’s Bias: Back in the Myspace days (2006), I found Mike Ness’ profile (not the band’s fan profile). I sent him a message to thank for the music he’s made and let him know how much it’s meant to me over the years, to which he wrote back, “Why thank you doll. It’s fans like you that keep these old bones rockin! Reach for the sky, M.N.” Whether it was really him or not, I don’t care. That message with his profile picture on it and screen name is still one of my most prized possessions!!
The Crowd: Mostly veteran fans. Some younger faces, but mostly a 25 and older crowd. Not a hipster in sight.
Overheard in the Crowd: — “There are some people in your life who are toxic and are always giving you shit…you know where you need to leave them, right?” (Mike Ness’ intro to “Far Behind”) — “But she’s not my girlfriend”! (Drunk dude who tried to get my number in front of his girlfriend and got called out.) – “Yeah, you roll those sleeves up, baby”!! (Fan girl to Mike Ness while he seductively rolled up his sleeves.)
Random notebook dump: I lost my shoe in the mosh pit of the very first Social D. show I ever went to at the Hollywood Palladium back in 1997. At Friday night’s show, I spotted someone’s lone Converse tennis shoe being kicked around the pit at the end of the night, which let me know I’m not the only one who knows what it’s like to leave a Social D. shoeless and feeling like a boss!
Setlist: Bad Luck So Far Away Story of My Life Machine Gun Blues Pleasure Seeker Nickels & Dimes Bakersfield Dear Lover Down Here with the Rest of Us Far Behind Sick Boys Let the Juke Box Keep on Playin’ (Carl Perkins cover) Sweet & Lowdown Blues **Encore** Winners and Losers Reach for the Sky (acoustic) Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash cover)
Source: OC Weekly