Social Distortion at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Last Saturday Night
John Gilhooley/OC Weekly

Social Distortion at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Last Saturday Night

Social Distortion
Oct. 22, 2011
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine

Click here for the slideshow

Mike Ness took a scan of the audience after the opening song, "California Hustle and Flow," and said, "There's a little more people here than we played for at the Fullerton Pub. I remember one fucker threatened to turn the hose on us."

Obviously, things have changed for our local boy, as a crowd at the Fullerton Pub would probably be hard-pressed to fill the first row two rows of the Verizon Wireless Ampitheater. They probably wouldn't have paid $40 for a ticket, either. There's always going to be irony in a punk band filling up an amphitheater in Irvine and it was nice to see Ness call it out.

And Social Distortion's act has definitely cleaned up since the days Ness reminisced about. Twenty years is a long time for a band to stay relevant, and in the case of Social Distortion, their act stays strong. Saturday's show was an exceptional example of why the band has maintained popularity, playing on a huge stage and putting on a huge show. 
Mostly, it's because Ness is a great frontman--he's engaging, maintains a degree of badassery and is appreciative on stage. "Since I was five years old this is what I want to do," he said. "So thank you."

Sing-a-long favorites like "Bad Luck" and "Story of My Life" were present along with some rarely-played-live treats like "Untitled" and "Dear Lover." Two soulful-voiced women accented the opening song "California Hustle and Flow" well but brought "Can't Take It With You" to a higher level. 

Ness' son Julian came out on stage and played his father's guitar for "Prison Bound" in a touching father-son moment. 

The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers
John Gilhooley/OC Weekly

Some people questioned the choice of pairing Social Distortion and the Avett Brothers at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Saturday. It have might be surprising, yes, but they aren't so dissimilar. Attendees both heard stories of the downtrodden, the lost souls and standing strong despite it all. They were told through different sounds but their common influences could always be heard. Social Distortion's signature cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and more rare cover of Hank Williams' "Six More Miles" would have been comfortably at home in an Avett Brothers set. 

The brothers played a rowdy foot-stomping set. Seeing them before one of the world's largest punk bands was a great precursor. Punk is heavily influenced by the old country greats. As such, it's fitting to have a band whose sound is more loyal to the like of Hank Williams. They showed us where subversive music for the common man came from and Social Distortion showed where it went.

"Bakersfield" was dedicated to the Avett Brothers. It's about feeling alone while stuck in a town "a million miles from home." They said they were honored to be playing in Social Distortion's home state.

It's hard to beat a Social Distortion show in Orange County. While some bands may dismiss our county as a pit-stop to Los Angeles, the palpable hometown love is always present when Social D comes back home. The frenzy is infectious to band and audience alike. 

Personal Bias: I saw the show with die-hard Social D fans.

The Crowd: Huge. Fans both young and old were there.

Overheard in the Crowd: Girl: "Face to Face and then the Avett Brothers." Boy: "Yeah, that's kind of odd." Girl: "But it's a good kind of odd."

Set list:  

"California Hustle and Flow"
"King of Fools"
"Bad Luck"
"Bye, Bye Baby"
"Mommy's Little Monster"
"Hour of Darkness"
"Machine Gun Blues"
"Story of My Life"
"Nickles and Dimes"
"Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown"
"When the Angels"
"Reach for the Sky"
"Six More Miles"
"Can't Take it With You"

"Dear Lover"
"Don't Drag Me Down"
"Prison Bound"
"Ring of Fire"


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