Social Distortion

By Sara Heflin

   When I got to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday night, I had every intention of gaining material to help me write a review on the headlining act Social Distortion. While I was still seriously impressed by the three-decade-running punk group, another act stood out to me as well. Lindi Ortega. The vibe was perfect. There were plenty of diehard Social Distortion fans who have been supporting the band since they began their career nearly thirty years ago. There was also a younger generation followers who were psyched to see Social D. Despite the age difference, the crowd did not clash, but rather came together in the sold-out crowd and enjoyed one of the best Social D concerts that D.C. has ever seen.

   The first band, the Biters was, well, different. I found them to be an odd choice for a SD opening act. Front man Tuk, who has been the lead of a few not-so-worth-naming bands, came out onto stage and went right into the set. I was a little confused about who this band was and what they were trying to stand for. They were somewhere between a crappy pop-rock band mixed with a 50’s feel, 80’s hair-metal and bad, very bad, 60’s haircuts. Needless to say, they were not my favorite act of the night. 

   Thankfully, Lindi Ortega was the next act up, and she definitely turned the night around.  Being an avid music fan and in particular a devoted fan of rockabilly and punk, I was taken aback by Lindi’s performance and overall style of music. She and her band were a blend of The HorrorPops, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash, and they did not disappoint. They played a 12 song set and kept the crowd moving. It’s always impressive to see a girl playing real rock n’ roll, but it’s really inspiring to see a truly talented girl rock a house full of punk fans. 

   Next was the headlining act Social Distortion. The iconic band walked out onto the stage and that was it. The crowd was ready and prepared to be blown away. Mike Ness, lead singer and solo-artist, opened up their set with the song “I Was Wrong.” As they moved through their 15 song set, they continued to gain momentum with the crowd.

   When they finally played “The Story of My Life,” they, no doubt, stirred up some fond and not-so-fond memories within each audience member. Social Distortion has a way of taking its fans on an emotional ride. Audience members can go from being pumped up and excited to angry and then back again. That’s a sign of a band who is better live than recorded, and that’s one of the things that has helped Social D stay on top for so many years.

   When the set ended, the band came out for the encore; five songs later, they ended the night with their cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” It was the perfect way to end the show; it was rough and exciting. It was true Social Distortion.

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