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Multiple generations party on

Social Distortion
The Rave
Milwaukee, WI
Aug. 1, 2009
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Review by Andrea Jenels
Photos by Angela Wangrud

With only one original member left, (frontman Mike Ness), and no new material released since 2004's Love, Sex, and Rock 'n' Roll, a 30 year reunion would normally seem like a ploy to capitalize on a band's once infallible success (a la Brett Michaels or Styx on the local county fair circuit). But the underground and commercial success of Social Distortion over the years resulted in a packed venue with multiple generations of punk & rockabilly fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the influential punk rock band.

Formed in Southern California in 1979, Social D emerged as a less aggressive style of punk, integrating blues, rockabilly, and country twinges into their music. Being influenced by both the American and British punk rock (Sex Pistols/Ramones), and Southern Rock and Country, a new genre (Cowpunk) is often traced back to the band as pioneering the movement in the mid-eighties. The band managed to successfully transform from a scrappy LA hardcore group on their first tour, to the road-tested purveyors of a much more expansive "Punk Rock Americana" of sorts. Ness's genuine writing abilities prove that simplicity can still be intense without loosing its catchiness.

The Rave stewed with multiple generations of Social Distortion fans, all inevitably complaining about $7.50 beers and ridiculously long lines to use the commodes. However, as soon as Social D graced the stage (10 minutes early! I might add). The plight of the economy and talk of expensive beer diminished as fans threshed forward filling in any gaps from the front of the stage 0 - to the back bellows of the building. Although no new material was introduced, it doesn't seem to matter much with a band like Social D; who's monumental songs such as "Ball and Chain" and the cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." are still in heavy rotation on the airwaves from independent college radio to classic rock stations.

Mike Ness shone as front man with his greaser-styled hair and signature throaty voice. With Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham - guitar, Brent Harding - bass, and newest replacement Adam "Atom" Willard (Angels & Airwaves) on drums, the boys kicked into high gear with favorites like "Mommy's Little Monster," "Reach For The Sky," and "Story of My Life." Briefly talking to the crowd before ripping into the next song, Ness did take a moment to greet his fans and announce: "It's good to be back in the US." The crowd returned the love by shouting lyrics word for word and raising up their glasses in appreciation of their stop in the cream city.

Related articles:

Social Distortion (Summerfest 2009) - Festival review - Milwaukee, WI July 2007
Social Distortion (Voodoo Music Experience 2006) - Festival review - New Orleans, LA Oct. 2006
Social Distortion - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI Nov. 2004

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