t’s been several years since I’ve seen Social Distortion. The last time I saw them was in 2012, headlining the very same venue in Oakland the day before Valentine’s Day. They were truly fantastic, and after seeing them several years later, they still are.
The band headlined The Fox Theater towards the beginning of September, but this time around, a special occasion was being celebrated: the anniversary of the band’s self-titled album. This was a big night because this album was so iconic for Social Distortion – tracks like “Story of My Life” and “Ball And Chain” became staples in the band’s future set lists, solidifying their career among the punk rock world. To commemorate the occasion, the band played the album from start to finish (with the exception of their Johnny Cash cover of “Ring of Fire”, which was placed serendipitously at the end of the night). I will say that I love watching album anniversary shows. Some people I know say nay to it, but it’s literally watching an album come to life. It’s such a vivid experience, and this rings true for Social Distortion’s performance at The Fox.
Yes, the band did play other songs after album performance was finished, but they came second-hand to the performance of the self-titled album. On that one particular night in Oakland, the scene was all about celebrating a unique release in punk rock. See, Social Distortion doesn’t exactly play music that I would have considered punk. When I think of punk, I think of The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, artists with that kind of sound. Social Distortion sounds more like blues- rock with a shit ton of distortion. But they carry such a demeanor, such a swagger onstage, that it just looks and feels so damn punk. Some bands are just like that.
Part of the way through the show, vocalist Mike Ness made a speech about the irony of punk rock. He talked about how punk rock was supposed to be about rebellion and going against the rules, yet when they started playing it, there were a number of rules if you were a member of that community: you couldn’t have long hair, you couldn’t have a beard, you had to look a certain way, and you had to sound a certain way. What good was it to rebel against the system that dictates what you can and can’t do if there’s a set of rules within that rebellion? It didn’t make sense to them, and it doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe that’s why they’ve come off with that punk attitude and demeanor after all these years. They still don’t give a fuck about what people think. They play what they want, and it works highly in their favor.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.