Social Tones of Liberty!

Time Warp Social Distortion
House of Blues
Tuesday, Jan. 23

Rapidly faltering economy? Check! Dimwitted Republican in the White House who couldn't count to 21 unless he was naked? Check! Reality-based programming cluttering up the TV (Survivor and Temptation Island, you're no That's Incredible! or Real People)? Check! The Vandals, Agent Orange, Social Distortion and TSOL all maxing out OC rooms in just a little over a month? Check!

Hallelujah—it's 1981 again! We remember that year fondly—all the barroom fights we started, all the cops we flipped the finger at, all the pieces of broken glass we used to carve PLEASE KILL ME into our forearms, all the purple gunk we colored our foot-high mohawks with. Well, okay—truth is in '81, we were busy leading fairly boring, ordinary, junior-high-school lives. All of our music came from the radio, which means that "Bette Davis Eyes," "Kiss on My List" and "Keep on Loving You" was about as punk rock as we got. Though we did discover the Sex Pistols that year (in, of all things, a filmstrip shown during seventh-grade music-appreciation class), they had long since imploded, so we figured our moment had passed. But, gosh, all that "new wave" stuff sure looked exciting—like punk, only not as scary!

Such are the unwise life choices we've made. Social D's Mike Ness has also made a few bad ones—that needle-in-the-heart scene in Pulp Fiction? That really happened to him back in his mid-'80s junkie days. He has long since cleaned up, though, and he deserves props for keeping Social D breathing all this time—they're now safe enough to be playing on Disney-owned real estate! Mike, dressed in gangster gear (fedora, black shirt, white tie) and armed with a loaded Gibson, clearly relished this factoid, whether stepping up to pronounce, "You mean it took fuckin' Walt Disney to build a fuckin' club in OC?" or recounting the time he went to Disneyland but wasn't allowed in because he was "so fucked-up." He also altered a line from "Ball & Chain" to say, "I've been drinkin' in the Disneyland parking lot all afternoon!"

The set was classic Social D, soaked in that raw, grating, punk-blues vibe that sounds like a sneering guitar. The new lineup, with Johnny Wickersham now permanently replacing the late Dennis Danell, grooves and pops at a level we hoped they'd get to when we caught them at last year's benefit gig for Danell's family. And the new songs are fantastic, especially "Don't Take Me for Granted" (written for Dennis; when Mike sang this, it sounded as if he was snarling with tears in his eyes) and "I Won't Run No More," two reflective yet tough, weathered and impeccably hooky tunes that make their next record that much more promising. But we still got older stuff like "Sick Boys" and "1945" and "I just wanna give you the creeps, motherfucker!" and tales about growing up the hard way—it just ain't a Social D set without those.

—Rich Kane Not Burnt, But Well Done The Tiki Tones
Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace
Saturday, Jan. 27

My Locals Only tag-team partner, Rich Kane, declared it a Locals Only Personal Best when, in the space of one night, he traveled feverishly to a bunch of different clubs and managed to see about a zillion different bands. I now hold the title for Locals Only Personal Worst because I recently kind of missed the band I wanted to see at the first club I went to and then couldn't find anything else going on and then wanted to go to a different show the next night but never did, so I just got drunk instead. Hear that, Kane? You're not the only one to make a splash in the world of all things music review-y!

See, it all started on Saturday night when, 15 minutes before the time we were supposed to leave, I had a sudden, neurotic girl-fit in which I didn't like what I was wearing, so I had to put on and then take off everything in my closet—all of which looked ugly—and then tripped over a phone cord.

A scant hour and 15 minutes later, my roommate and I were fast on our way to Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace to see the Tiki Tones, who I always thought were a surf band until I heard their most recent CD, The Leisure Experiment, which isn't surfy at all but instead is lounge-y, James Bond, 1960s-style, mod-spy music. (But live, they're a surf band, so go figure . . .)

On the way there, a friend we were supposed to meet called to let us know he was leaving Bamboo Terrace because "it's kind of burnt."

I hung up. "What does that mean?" I asked my roommate.

"You know, kinda 'burnt,' like . . . you know, just like . . . burnt," she offered helpfully.

"I know, but still: What does that mean?" I asked again.

"Just like, it's not going off," she said. "It's burnt."

"Oh." And then: "But we're still going to go, right?"

"May as well since we're almost there," she said.

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