Being able to see legends up close and personal is one of my favorite things. Sure, all shows are great, but being able to see seasoned veterans (as in the ones that influenced all of the other music you listen to today) is truly breathtaking. Last night was one of those shows and, as I stood there watching and listening to Social Distortion I couldn’t stop the giant grin that spread from ear to ear.
Jade Jackson, the sole opener for the show, took the stage promptly at 8PM with her three piece band behind her. Jade didn’t say anything to preface her set and jumped right into her twangy country music. At first, I was a bit confused. Why was there a country act opening for Social Distortion? As I watched Jade play through her nearly hour long set, it made sense. You could see her literally breathe the music. The amount of passion she had for what she was doing on that stage was something to be envied. She had a punk rock energy about her without being punk at all. She played with a sense of conviction and passion that would make her a great opening on any show she got offered.
Jade’s voice was sweet but it had a shade of darkness that seemed to be hidden. With a strong Hank Williams influence and lyrics that paint the picture of a soul much older than her actual age, I was enthralled by her performance. It seemed like I wasn’t alone in my trance at the beginning of her set. The growing crowd around me seemed to drop everything just to watch and listen to this beautiful songstress but it only lasted so long. Her slower songs, while beautiful, did not seem to connect with the crowd that had come for a punk show and one could hear the conversations grow louder. People were now ready for something more powerful to hit the stage and were anxious to see Social Distortion. Jade Jackson’s music may not my typical cup of tea but I can not deny that she had me mesmerized and I look forward to getting another chance to see her hopefully soon.
It has been nearly forty years since the start of Social Distortion. Obviously, being only 27 years old, I have no clue what it was like in the beginning but I know damn well that this band is easily one of the most influential bands of all time. With their punk rock attitude and the way they blur the lines between punk, rock, pop, and even rockabilly, this group is a staple in many people’s daily playlist including my own. Although singer Mike Ness is the only original member left standing, nothing has really changed as far as Social Distortion’s music is concerned and that is something I’m very thankful for. The band wasted no time and jumped right into their twelve song set that was capped off with a four song encore.
With seven full length albums, Social Distortion could have easily played for hours and the crowd still wouldn’t have heard everything they wanted to. I felt that the band did a great job of picking songs from every era of their life span and picking the songs that people wanted to hear. Saving the obvious hits like “Don’t Drag Me Down” and “Story of My Life” for the encore, Social Distortion’s set was like a roller coaster ride but one of the best rides of your life. Some songs had a very punk vibe to them while others had a straight up country style to them. Being able to hear so many different elements in one show is something that I crave. I get so sick of hearing bands play the same style throughout an over hour long set and hearing so many different elements throughout the set kept it feeling fresh and original.
The older crowd was very polite throughout the show. Sure, there was a little mosh pit that seemed to grow a bit bigger with every show but it was a very calm one with people just pushing and shoving a little bit to the music. People were more than content with just standing there and watching these legends on stage while sipping on their drinks. Sure, the band and the crowd have gotten older and have calmed down quite a bit but the passion and love for the music is something that hasn’t changed over nearly forty years and to be a twenty-something lost in the middle of it all was humbling to say the least.
Don’t sleep on these legendary groups that influenced everything you listen to now because you think they’re boring to watch live or you think they’re past their prime… they aren’t. Being able to see legends up close and personal is a game changer and something that will never get old for me.
SET LIST: Still Alive/ 99 To Life/ Gimme The Sweet and Lowdown/ California (Hustle and Flow)/ King of Fools/ Dear Lover/ Ball and Chain/ Mass Hysteria/ Scars/ When She Begins/ When I Lay My Burden Down/ Hour of Darkness// ENCORE: Angel’s Wings/ Don’t Drag Me Down/ Story of My Life/ Ring Of Fire (Cover)