Category: Social Distortion

Live review: X, Social Distortion at GV30

The Southland punk bands help Goldenvoice celebrate its 30th anniversary in a vibrant, nostalgic show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Concertgoers entering the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday night for a performance by Social Distortion and X had to weave through a maze of crowd-control barriers that led at least one ticketholder to ask, "Is there cheese at the end?"

When the Los Angeles concert-promotions firm Goldenvoice started staging punk shows three decades ago, such rat-race formalities might’ve carried a whiff of the Establishment. But as Goldenvoice marked its 30th year in business with a weekend-long festival called GV30, the proceedings reflected a newly grown-up mind-set.

In addition to Friday’s bill (which also featured the Adolescents), the celebration included shows Saturday and Sunday with Bad Religion, the Descendents and other veterans of Southern California’s vibrant punk scene.

That once-underground movement -- fired by a do-it-yourself attitude and a prideful anti-careerism -- was the original province of Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, who presented his first event under the company’s name in December 1981 at Santa Barbara’s La Casa de le Raza. (T.S.O.L. headlined, as we were reminded Friday by a grainy VHS clip projected onstage before X’s set; vintage fliers flashed by later advertising early gigs by Megadeth and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)

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Blink-182, Bush, 311 tapped for KROQ's Acoustic Christmas


Recently reunited acts Blink-182 and Bush are among the initial names unveiled for the annual Almost Acoustic Christmas concert presented by KROQ-FM (106.7). The '90s-era survivors will headline the first night of the two-day event, set for the weekend of Dec. 10-11. 

Artists sharing the bill Dec. 10 include Chevelle, Incubus, New Found Glory, Social Distortion, 311 and Young the Giant, the latter being the only relative new-comers among the initial crop. Pre-sale tickets for Night 1 will be available Wednesday via Ticketmaster for those who are members the KROQ street team.

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Social Distortion to appear on 'Conan' on Tuesday night

Mike Ness 2010 Gary Friedman

Social Distortion’s new album, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” officially surfaces Tuesday, and longtime followers of the veteran O.C. punk rock band probably have noticed the group’s profile surfacing in ways they might never had expected.

For one, there’s the massive billboard along the southbound Santa Ana Freeway in La Mirada, something that would have seemed impossible to imagine when the band was starting out three decades ago.  The group’s label, Epitaph Records, has erected another atop the Amoeba Music store in Hollywood, and a third across from the Hollywood Palladium noting the band’s three sold-out shows there Jan. 27-29.

A collaboration between the band’s website and has offered visitors the ability to stream the album for free, and for every 100,000 streams, drops its sale price on the album by $1. As of Tuesday afternoon, the album had been streamed more than 400,000 times, bringing Amazon’s price to $8.99 from the $12.99 starting point.

Last month the group made its first national TV appearance ever when it performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and on Tuesday night, Social D returns to the late-night TV talk show arena for a performance on “Conan.”

On a recent stop at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, I even found a pile of complimentary Social Distortion bookmarks. Does the flurry of promotional and marketing efforts take away some of the band’s long-cultivated mystique?

“We always wanted to remain a little bit underground and unattainable,” singer and chief songwriter Mike Ness told me recently. “But at some point, you realize that the mystery is solved now. We’re just an O.C. rock 'n’ roll band that’s trying to get more fans, basically.”

As for the decision to stop declining requests for TV appearances, Ness said, “we’ve been asked before, and it was always one of those things where some of us wanted to do it and some of us didn’t. … Honestly, I feel now that there are thousands of people out there who just don’t know they’re Social D fans yet.  Besides, TV is cool now. Once we did it [for Kimmel], it was like, ‘Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?’ ”

-- Randy Lewis

Album review: Social Distortion's 'Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes'

Social_distortion_240_ “Life gets hard and then it gets good, like I always knew it would,” Mike Ness declares on Social Distortion’s new album. Old-school fans of this long-running Orange County punk band might have trouble accepting the latter half of that couplet, given the terminally down-and-out vibe of early Social D records such as “Mommy’s Little Monster.” (Sample lyric from that 1983 debut: “One more trip like that will put me in the morgue.”)

Nevertheless, “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” does indeed exude an essential optimism that feels no less believable than any of Ness’ tales from the dark side. Like his new labelmates in Bad Religion, the frontman values punk’s durability over its aggression or its (bad) attitude, which is why he piles on the Black Crowes-style classic-rock signifiers in “California (Hustle and Flow)” and breaks from autobiographical protocol in “Machine Gun Blues,” about an early-’30s gangster on a bloody interstate crime spree.

He even taps a disarmingly tender vein for the plaintive “Writing on the Wall,” in which he ruminates on the complexity of his relationship with his teenage son. You can tell Ness is still getting comfortable revealing that side of his artistic persona; most of the song’s words are self-help boilerplate meant to keep you on the surface of his thoughts. But the music provides a way in.

—Mikael Wood

Social Distortion
“Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes”
Three stars (Out of four) 

Exclusive: Social Distortion premieres new song, 'California (Hustle and Flow)'

This winter marks the long-gestating return of O.C. punk stalwarts Social Distortion, which begins 2011 with a string of shows around the Southwest and Southern California that will culminate in a three-night stint at the Palladium in Hollywood on Jan. 27-29. The shows come alongside the band's first studio album in six years, "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes," its debut full-length for equally sturdy punk label Epitaph.

Times music writer Randy Lewis spent time with Distortion founder Mike Ness and the band while they were making the new record, and Ness spoke openly about the challenges of harnessing hardened emotions to create new sounds.  

“Changing the old anger is the challenge for me,” he said. “When I was 17, it was perfect, because I needed it. I needed it to defend myself against the attacking world, and I had plenty of it. Even in my 20s, it was great. Anger’s great for writing. Like everything, some of these things that were survival skills turn into a double-edged sword in your adult life -- they can affect your marriage, affect your relationship with your children, affect your relationships period. …

“It’s been a little turbulent,” he said, adding with a twisted smile: “It’s an interesting -- and stressful -- period in life, and that always does create a good record.”

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