Show Review: 64

Every time Social Distortion swings by the East Coast you are in for a good time. Sure the band has slowed down releasing new material, but who really cares when Mike Ness and company are cranking out classics like “Mommy’s Little Monster” and “Sick Boy?” This time, Social D decided to give some love to the Garden State, bypassing NYC all together, and doing a double header and the Starland Ballroom. The HangmenThe Hangmen warmed up the audience with a healthy helping of audio ass kicking. They play garage rock in the vein of the New York Dolls, but with Paul Westerberg’s snarl. This band has been around for ages, but only recently have they gotten the ball rolling. They are quickly making a name for themselves in the rock circuit by playing stripped down rock that comes off cool and dirty. Social Distortion took the stage in old school gangster fashion. Mike Ness, sporting a bandanna over his face, stole the predominantly female crowd’s hearts as he passed out a handful of roses to the kittens in the crowd. It’s kind of strange staring at Social Distortion and not really recognizing anyone in the band other than Ness (and maybe the drummer who’s pushing more than a decade with the band), but the sound emitting from the speakers is still true LA punkabilly, performed like no one else. Surprisingly, Ness changed up his onstage banter, which has become almost choreographed over the years. Instead, the aging rock star praised the audience for their devotion and let the songs do most of the talking. Social D played for over an hour and a half, cranking out hits like “Ball and Chain,” a few covers, and even a new track from their greatest hits. The new lead guitarist does late guitarist Dennis Dannel justice, laying down lick after lick and playing off Ness’s every chord. Sadly, Rancid bass fiddler Matt Freeman wasn’t in tow this time, but the present rhythm section weren’t slouches either. The band closed the evening with an encore of “Prison Bound” and “Ring of Fire” to the delight of a sold out audience. Social Distortion might be looking their age, but by the sound of it, they sure aren’t feeling it. Here’s to another two decades of distortion.