When it comes to music, my taste tends to be very mood based. The styles that influenced me over the years ranged from classic 70s rock, from my step dad, to 1950’s rock and roll and doo wop and Motown from my mom. Music is art and just like when in a museum, I want to see and experience all the different styles, but of course, we always have our favorites. For me, rockabilly is definitely one of my favorites. Its retro rock and roll sound with just a touch of country and a punk rock attitude makes for one hell of a mixture. While Social Distortion is probably considered a bit more punk than rockabilly, in my opinion they are a band that walks a fine line between the two genres and it does a fairly great job of balancing the two.
While you won’t find any standing basses in this group, you will get guitar legend and greaser god Mike Ness, leading this band not only with well-honed musical skills but with a sultry voice as well. Ness has been driving the vintage loving ladies that love a good bad boy crazy for many years now. After finally getting the chance to see him perform live last Friday night at The Fillmore, I can see why. His style, his presence, and his talent all radiate from the stage and it was clear by the average age of the audience that those qualities have secured him a loyal fan base. I attended solo and spent the night not only enjoying the 90 minute set, but the people watching as well. Dad bods, silver foxes, gutter punks, and a surprisingly healthy dose of polo shirt wearing yuppie types, as far as the eye could see. It was an interesting crowd and I admittedly felt a bit out of place as being a fat babe with a touch of vintage greaser in her looks, was definitely not the norm on this night.
Upon arrival I was a bit annoyed. It’s been my experience lately that the people responsible for promoting these shows on Facebook have been dropping the ball. The FB event page said the event started at 8. Nothing more beyond links for advance ticket sales. Presumably, that means doors at 8, show at 8:30 if you’re lucky. This time it meant doors at 7, show at 8, so my 8:40 arrival time did not afford me the opportunity to see the opening band. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I don’t really want to become the person who is calling the venue the day of a show to verify the start time but if you know me, you know time management isn’t always my strength. I may have to become that person. I get you want to pack people in early and make money from the bar, but some of us are multitasking multiple events a week along with a job, friends, and just random life. Knowing when the actual start time is can be a huge help for those of us trying to get to a show right after work and still allow some time to stop home to change out of our work clothes. End rant. So while it may have sucked that I missed the opener, part of me didn’t mind getting there just in time to grab a good spot under an AC vent and settle in for the main event.
Coming out onto the stage and jumping right into “Still Alive,” the crowd got right up on their feet and continued to rock out to classics like “99 to Life,” “King of Fools,” and “Ball and Chain.” It was like a laid back rock and roll sing along as the crowd swayed and nailed the songs that have become iconic anthems of the scene. “When She Begins” was when the small pit that had formed towards the front of the crowd really started to pick up and they really got into it during “Scars” and “Another State of Mind.” When it came time to do a cover, something they like to do to pay tribute to artists they love, Ness chose to go with the title track from his bass guitarists 2012 solo project, “Hope Dies Hard.” However, it was clear from the chanting in the audience that this was not the cover his fans were looking for.
At this point it was getting late and I needed a potty break and unfortunately, or fortunately if you consider the fact that it emptied the ladies room, this is when they finally played “Sick Boy.” It was clearly the favorite for the women at the show. They rounded out the night with a song from one of Ness’s solo pursuits “Cheating At Solitaire” and of course the cover that everybody really wanted to hear, The Johnny Cash and June Carter hit, “Ring of Fire.”
While it was a great song to end on, I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I was super disappointed that they didn’t play some of my favorites, including “Let It Be Me,” “Making Believe,” and my summer time bad choices anthem, “So Far Away.” Despite missing out on hearing these live, the show was still a good time. Had I not been alone, I probably would’ve joined the mosh pit that developed but I didn’t want to chance losing or breaking my phone so I found myself just enjoying the show from different vantage points. While the set lasted 90 minutes, it felt like it blew by and before you knew it, the night was over. There was something about ending on a cover that just didn’t feel right to me. I actually hoped there would be a full on encore and that they’d come back out and play the songs I was hoping to hear but alas, the aging dad bods, yuppies, and punks made no haste in emptying out that venue and the night was over, not with a bang, but with more a whimper.