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Arts and Entertainment

Social D does the Sunset Strip

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LAist contributor Josh Spector reports: For two hours on Sunday night inside the House of Blues, rock 'n roll was everything it's meant to be - raw, dangerous, meaningful, and moving. Veteran So Cal rockers Social Distortion brought more than two decades worth of musicianship, urgency, ups and downs to the stage in an inspiring performance.

With no new album to promote, the band played a good mix of songs from over the course of its lengthy career to a packed house that was clearly familiar with the entire Social Distortion catalog. Sure, hits like "The Story Of My Life" and "Ball and Chain" were met with a roar, but so were nearly all of the band's songs. This hometown crowd was there to see Social Distortion - not just to see a couple Social Distortion songs.

Frontman Mike Ness, dressed in black topcoat and black fedora, took the stage with all the passion and ferocity fans have come to expect from him. Even with his left arm in a sling (due to a skateboarding accident apparently - "This is what happens when a guy gets on a skateboard for the first time in 30 years," he joked to the crowd), Ness still managed to command the stage and lead his tight band.

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Not typically a guy who is prone to much banter between songs, Ness did touch briefly on a wide array of topics ranging from Dick Cheney's recent shooting incident, to the inspiration behind the music Social Distortion plays. Ness introduced one song by saying something to the effect of, "This next song was written at 4 am one morning in 1982 after I had just gotten my ass kicked by seven rednecks in Orange County. You see, in 1982, California didn't want any punks around."

Within that statement is the key to the Social Distortion experience. Social Distortion's music and live shows are so fantastic because this isn't a band talking about what they think, it's a band talking about what they've lived.

People tend to think of punk as a rebellious teenager's game, but Social Distortion and Mike Ness prove that it doesn't have to be. They prove it can be so much more. Social Distortion's brand of punk rings true because it isn't about the rantings of a teenager who thinks that life is kicking his ass -- it's about the perspective of a group that has taken life's best shot and survived to sing about it.

Now that's punk rock. And it made for one hell of a show.