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Social Distortion at Lupos
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Social Distortion
Conducts School of Rock
Lupos Providence, RI

By Rory Flynn
Contributing Writer

It was truly a diverse crowd, with parents even bringing their children to the show, when Social Distortion hit the Lupo's stage in Providence for their first of three New England appearances (the others being Hampton Beach and Hartford). "School is in session," said the band's founder and lead singer Mike Ness, and indeed they delivered a lesson plan.

Ness is more than your average punk rocker with his gifted simple songwriting ability. His true-life rebellious lyrics are why Social Distortion is one of the most important and influential bands out of Orange County. The band's latest release, Sex, Love, & Rock 'n' Roll, is perfect example of this. The album is a reflection of lessons learned from Ness's hard-knock life. On "Reach To The Sky" Ness sings, "When I was young I was invincible, I find myself now thinking twice. I never thought about no future, it's just the roll of the dice."

The album is also a tribute to Social Distortion's former guitarist Dennis Danell who passed away five years ago. Ness wrote, "Don't take me for granted" about Danell who started Social Distortion when they went to high school together. Though emotional, he has said that it was one of the easiest songs for him to write and the final product is clearly a standout. Also from the new album that sounded particularly well live were "Nickels and Dimes" and "Footprints On My Ceiling."

Social Distortion played a fair amount of old favorites spanning their over 25 year career from the opener of "Mommy's Little Monster," to "1945"," and even their cover of the Rolling Stone's "Under My Thumb" that all had the pit flowing and everyone else singing along. Ness along with band mates drummer Charlie Quintano, guitarist Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham, and touring bassist Matt Freeman (of Rancid fame) displayed their blues ability in a couple of tight jams.

One of the night's most memorable moments came when Ness brought a handful of kids, all at least under twelve-years-old, on stage. Telling them "you got fire in ya" Ness said they were the next generation. He then went on to thank all the "old-timers who have been following us for the past 25 years" and said he was still growing up by learning from his past before kicking in to fan favorite "Prison Bound."

An encore of the fiery "Ring of Fire" and staple "Story of My Life" capped of the night. Social Distortion provided a lesson pan for all inspiring musicians in attendance. It's too bad a few bubblegum "punk" rockers (Simple Plan and Good Charlotte), which Ness had even dissed earlier in the night, were playing only a few blocks away and thus missed out on some desperately needed advice.

The opening act was provided yet again by another local Boston group, as the Street Dogs who supported on the first leg earlier this year were replaced with the Lost City Angels. The band lack consistency but showed great energy, especially on "Clutching at Shadows" which was a duet with local sweetheart Stephanie Dougherty (also known for her part on "The Dirty Glass" off the Dropkick Murphys Blackout)

Ness did cite before leaving the stage, as he thanked the crowd, that the band would be back in the area sometime this summer. No official word has been made on where or when the possible show will take place but stayed tune to for updated information.


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