Columbus, OH, Promowest Pavilion, May 25, 2005

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman


When you can hear Mike Ness sing Ring of Fire and Story of My Life, that should be a decent enough night. But to get another hour and 15 minutes worth of music on top from Social Distortion definitely helped relieve the fans pent up emotions. After all, it was a few months of constrained angst. Social Distortion was supposed to play Promowest Pavilion back on Feb. 18, but the show was cancelled due to an illness. As if it wasn't bad enough the show was cancelled, it was cancelled day-of, so this time around, fans were ready to rock their punk hearts out.


And punk hearts were a-plenty. As Andy Man from CD-101 came on stage to announce some upcoming shows, Modest Mouse and The Killers, both bands received a chorus of boos. Social D fans are not about music-friendly rock, they are about the Johnny Cash-meets The Stranglers vibe of Mike Ness, who may be one of the best lyricists of our time. Ness can write such personal lyrics that span a generation. The motley crew that filled the inside of Promowest was not for the faint of heart. There were those who dressed 60s style, there were those who dressed goth. There were those who dressed like they just left a Rancid show, and there were those who looked like they just left their accounting day job to release that angry energy just one more time.


It has been 26 years since Social Distortion first formed in the OC. This was the OC before there was FOX television and lousy rich kid punk rock. This was the OC that delved into a sound made famous by the New York and London underground punk scene This was and OC that the rest of the country had no idea was there. This was Mike Ness, Casey Royer and Rikk and Frank Agnew's OC.


In those 26 years, Ness has helped to lead a generation of disenfranchised and unheard youth. It wasn't long after initial formation that Ness switched line-ups and their first nationwide single was grasped onto by the outsiders mush a fish sucks for water when being yanked out the ocean by a hook. Mommy's Little Monster hit the airwaves and started giving Social D some recognition and began a solid fan base that followed them 22 years later to Promowest Pavilion.


Although many in attendance may not have been born in 1983 when the single was released, there may have been one or two who were conceived as that song played on a tape deck of the car/bed for the night. This was a crowd of mixed generations but the same backgrounds.


Mike Ness and Social Distortion were able to remind those in Columbus what punk rock really is about. It is not attitude, clothes and the right haircut to look punk. Punk is being one's true self. Mike Ness has a way to let everyone know who and what he is through his music, and if you don't like it, I don't think Ness will lose any sleep. It is also probable that Ness could care what any fan looks like, does for a living or drives around town. Ness is pure punk. And pure punk is doing what feels right, regardless of consequence. If it's a Mohawk, fine. There were a few there that night. If it's wearing all black and eye shadow the color of coal in hell, that's cool, too. And if it's being a working stiff for a company who can still be one's self, then, hey, so be it. Mike Ness has never claimed to be anything to anyone but a songwriter, and an unapologetic one at that. And that is all that is asked of the fans, and that is exactly what was given by Columbus to Social D, an unapologetic good time where everyone got along just fine.

Mike Ness
Mike Ness