Social Distortion

by Staff

ByKenneth SmithAssistant Tempo Editor

The death of rhythm guitarist and founding member of SocialDistortion Dennis Danell last year had fans worried that the band’s20-year-plus reign as the kings of Orange County punk was finally atan end.

Since Danell’s passing, Social D has maintained silence abouttheir future recording plans and not performed live, with theexception of a May 6, 2000 benefit for Danell’s family at VerizonWireless Amphitheater. Even before Danell’s passing, the band had nottoured since 1998 and not released new material since 1996’s WhiteLight, White Heat, White Trash, allowing frontman Mike Ness to tourand record solo.

Questions regarding the band’s future were put to rest early thisyear, when the band announced a series of consecutive shows in LosAngeles, Orange County, San Diego and Las Vegas. They kicked offtheir return with a three-day engagement at ‘Canes beginning onFriday, Jan. 12. San Diego will also have the honor of closing themini-tour, as Social D will return to 4th and B on Friday.

SocialD’s January and February engagements are particularly exciting forlong-time fans, as their recent tour stops have been arenas and largevenues. The latest shows have been at smaller, intimate venues likethe L.A. and Anaheim House’s of Blues.

I caught the Saturday, Jan. 13 and Sunday, Jan. 14 shows and gotto witness the bands return from two distinct perspectives. I alwayshave a personal dilemma when I attend concerts — should I stay soberand reserved and objectively analyze the band’s performance or getdrunk and dig in. Having tickets for two nights gave me the uniqueopportunity to try both. The results were simple — either way,Social D kicks ass.

The band’s performance was at once indicative of a return to formand maturation. Ness has traded in his staple stage outfit — blackDickies and a wifebeater — for a more refined shirt and tie.

Before kicking off the show with “Emotional Outbreak,” he joked,”If you’re wondering about the suit, well, let’s just say ticketprices were a little high.”

The sets were fairly static both nights, but their were a fewchanges. The first part of the 90-minute show focused mainly on theband’s early days (“The Creeps,” “Hour of Darkness,” “Mommy’s LittleMonster”), with a newer song (“Pleasure Seeker”) and one of theband’s biggest hits (“Bad Luck”) thrown in for good measure.

One of the show’s many highlights came midway through the set.Ness announced they were going to do a Stone’s cover, leading most ofthe audience to expect the Social D version of “Under My Thumb.” Theyinstead played their lesser-known (but nonetheless fantastic) coverof “Backstreet Girl.”

Other classics included “Sick Boys,” “Making Believe,” “Ball andChain,” “Ring of Fire” and the rare gem “Lude Boy.”

Thebest part of the show, though, was undoubtedly three new songs setfor Social D’s next album, slated for summer release. The new songsare “I Won’t Run No More,” “Footprints on the Ceiling,” and a songNess wrote for Danell after his passing, the excellent “Don’t Take MeFor Granted.”

Ness introduced “Don’t Take Me For Granted” by speaking briefly ofDanell. He also dedicated the show, the new album and everything theband does this year to his friend an bandmate of 25 years.

Filling Danell’s shoes on rhythm guitar is former Cadillac Trampand hero of the Vandals’ song “Johnny Twobags,” Johnny Wickersham.Charlie Quintana, who played drums for Ness’ solo project, took thespace most recently occupied by Chuck Biscuits.

Social D’s much-anticipated return was definitely worth the wait.Few bands, particularly those who have been around so long, continueto produce consistently excellent material and put on as good of ashow as Social D.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email