Social Distortion | 05.04.11

Ness kept the crowd engaged by walking from one edge of the stage to the other, telling stories, and making fun of Creed.




The Pageant, St. Louis

Thirty years is a long time to be making music, and in that time a band is bound to evolve—only a handful of them can release the same album over decades with success. Social Distortion started making their brand of rockabilly/punk in the late 1970s in southern California. Thirty years later they’re still playing, but much like their latest album, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes, they seem to have lost their edge.

The Pageant was full of an eclectic mix of young and old, dressed up and dressed down, mohawks and cowboy shirts. People reminisced about the last time they saw Social D, the first time they saw Social D, and just how many times they’ve seen the band.

Once opening acts Sharks and Chuck Ragan cleared the stage, techs removed the monitors. With a line of bouncers at the front of the stage to make sure people didn’t get too rowdy, Social Distortion was ready to walk out at 10 p.m.

The band started strong and did photographers and fans alike a huge favor by walking up to the edge of the stage and striking poses, giving everyone a photo opportunity. The first few songs included well-known hits “So Far Away” and “Sick Boy,” done well but slowed down from their original speeds. “Ball And Chain,” too, dragged considerably from the 1990 self-titled release it debuted on.

From there, Social Distortion played a mix of lesser-known and better-known songs, plus and a few from the latest album, including “Bakersfield.” Lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Ness’s distinctive croon bounced around The Pageant, with the crowd bobbing their heads and singing along.

While some bands might just stand on stage and plow through their set, Ness kept the crowd engaged by walking from one edge of the stage to the other, telling stories, and making fun of Creed. Chuck Ragan’s fiddle player Jon Gaunt was invited on stage for a couple of songs in the middle, too.

The encore was predictable, but not a letdown by any means. They started with “Prison Bound,” and Ness riled the crowd up for “Story Of My Life.” Once they were through with that, Ness asked for “Barry White lights” and told the crowd they were going to be playing a slow love song—they broke into “Ring Of Fire,” exiting the stage at 11:30 p.m.

The men of Social Distortion played a solid show. They played just the right number of hits at just the right times, moderating the crowd’s energy without a flaw. Though die-hard fans of Social D’s older releases might’ve been disappointed to hear the slowed-down versions of their favorite songs, the band still stayed true to their punk roots by doing exactly what they wanted, how they wanted. | Eva Connors



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