Review and Photos by Matt SchwenkeBack on the road with a new album entitled Sex, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll, Social Distortion blasted the crowd at the Rave with a good hard punk sound and proved to still have the edge that made them a thorn in society's ass years ago (~1979). This is not a bubblegum-blowing punk band like most acts that claim they are punk today; this is a seasoned punk band that has expanded to create their own sound all the while never losing the grit that defines punk.
Rancid bass player Matt Freeman joined up with the band for the current tour after long-time bassist John Maurer decided to leave the band, and the replacement proved to be a good one. Freeman was just as much at home during the heaviest numbers as he was during the slower blues-like tunes. Guitarist Johnny "2 Bags" Wickersham and drummer Charlie Quintana, who both joined the band in 2000, were solid and did well to match the intensity of frontman Mike Ness. Pounding out guitar riffs and jumping about the stage between vocal lines, Ness provided blazing intensity on the song "Nickels and Dimes" from their new album and on the classic Johnny Cash tune "Ring of Fire."
While the punk sound was evident and full of energy in their music, Social Distortion sets themselves apart by injecting blues into the mix (a la George Thorogood). After playing a straight-up blues number that was full of improv in the blues tradition, Ness called out, "Give me the down beat maestro," and the band instantly changed gears going into their only mainstream hit "Ball and Chain." By mixing punk and blues seamlessly throughout the night, Social Distortion displayed a mature knowledge of music with youthful energy.
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