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.

But I'd made nary a note in my superembarrassing Winnie the Pooh notebook (Christmas present from Mom) when I saw Rebecca Schoenkopf, a.k.a. Commie Girl, standing outside the club, looking as if she were going to cover the show. Drats!

“I bet you're going to write about this, aren't you?” I hissed, brandishing my mechanical pencil.

“Touch, Rosen,” she snarled, jabbing me in the shoulder with her ballpoint pen.

“Bring it on, Schoenkopf! Bring it on!” I shouted, doing my best impression of a menacing martial-arts move.

“I'm only going to write about how beautiful the two women are,” she said, smashing her pen against the curb and holding the jagged end toward me.

“The ones who look like Susan Powter and some character from Twin Peaks?” I asked, tossing my pencil from hand to hand and then flipping it around behind my head, tucking it behind my ear and running into the club.

Unfortunately, the matching-Hawaiian-shirt-sporting Tiki Tones had just finished the last song of their first set—a plucky cover of Devo's “Girl U Want”—and were taking a break before playing again.

Which would have been fine if my roommate hadn't wanted to leave to go meet up with the rest of our friends, all of whom had already left Bamboo Terrace, which was kind of my fault since we were so late. It was shaping up to be quite a shitty evening.

I made us stick around until the band started playing again because I had to see the go-go dancer whom I'd heard was like the best go-go dancer this side of, um, this side of, well . . . anyone know the name of a really good go-go dancer? She was captivating, if only for the psychotic intensity with which she go-go'd. Most go-go dancers have this sort of bored, unimpressed, ice-queen look about them, as if they're just dancing in a cage because they have nothing better to do. Not so this go-go dancer! She sliced the air with her go-go hands and knees as if her life depended on it. She was all about the go-go. She could write Chicken Soup for the Go-go Soul.

And the band was good, too, in a surfy instrumental way that was more like what I always imagined them to be and less like the sound on their most recent album.

So I'd say it wasn't really that burnt after all.

—Alison M. Rosen Let's Do the Time Warp Again! TSOL
Chain Reaction
Saturday, Jan. 27

This was a benefit for the Surfrider Foundation, but it could just as easily have been called Chain Reaction Family Night—there were lots of old punkers who brought their kids to this show, which is kinda cool but also kinda not. OC punk's golden age has a seriously nostalgic bent to it for a lot of kids today (like the '60s were for all of us who wore tie-dyed shirts to high school back in the '80s—yes, we can admit this now), even though it's a false, overly romanticized version of an age they never lived in and can never truly replicate—but, for a little while, at least they can pretend. A perfect example was the scrawny kid we saw who looked about 13, sporting high, spiked hair and a freshly minted black Ramones tee with the sleeves cut off. Since when did Wal-Mart open a punk-rock boutique?

Ah, well—we had fun playing dress-up in our youth, too. Our point made, we'll just offer a few details from TSOL's set—Jack Grisham in a frilly, hot-pink, lounge-singer shirt; “Abolish Government”; “Superficial Love”; “Code Blue”; yes yes yes, great great great, blah blah blah. What we'll cherish most was the moment when Jack brought a preteen girl onstage, duct-taped her to a plastic chair, and then launched her out into the middle of a whirling mosh pit as Jack blurted, “The cool thing is that my 13-year-old daughter is here tonight, and this is exactly the kind of stuff I tell her not to do!” The crowd was careful, though, and just gingerly jostled the lass, never letting her or the chair drop in spite of Jack's “Come on! Somebody's gotta try and knock her down!” pleas.

Damn kids today—they just behave too much!


Send CDs, tapes and the all-important contact info to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

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