Friday, October 23, 2009

Sick Boys

So I looked behind me, and there was a bit of a skirmish. I wondered why the fight wasn't being stopped immediately, then I realized it was because one of the guys in the fight was a bouncer. Some graybeard bouncer was getting all he could handle from this skinny punk. Mostly a wrestling match, with a few awkward roundhouses meeting cheekbones on either scrapper. Lasted about 30 seconds, which is pretty long for a fight in a crowded show at a small venue. Graybeard got no help from his colleagues, presumably because they were preoccupied with the eddy of mosh that was closer to the stage. Amazingly, after the pair became separated, Skinny seamlessly slipped back into the crowd and everyone went about their business. Graybeard nodded a couple of times like "Good scrap," then turned his attention back to the fray.

We watched the show from some sort of safe haven between that thoroughfare behind me and the memories of my youth in the fracas in front of us. At 39, and 6'5", the thought I really don't need to be a part of THAT repeatedly registered in my head. My liver ached Wednesday morning, and the rest of my body thanked me for the damage being limited therein.

Social Distortion. Came on the scene in my world in 1990 when Rob and I saw the grainy B&W video for "Ball & Chain" whilst draining quarts of Old Mil on a random summer night in Williamsburg. Rob had the good taste and prescience to see the band's greatness in a 5:44 sample. We went to Patrick Henry Mall shortly thereafter, I bought some disposable band's meager pinnacle, he bought the Social D's eponymously titled major label debut. Rob 1, Whitney 0.

Ah, but I have reaped the benefits of his wisdom ever since. Short-term, as we put that disc on repeat and made it the permanent backdrop to six guys in a two-bedroom/one-bathroom shanty shack drinking cheap beer, watching every episode of Vice, playing a full season of Strat-o-matic, delivering pizza, not getting laid, and drinking more cheap beer. I've already told you what a great album it is, and it's as enjoyable 19 years later as it was back then.

Long-term, I'm grateful for Rob's musical insight as well. Tuesday night in Richmond at a damn fine venue call The National, Social Distortion came to kick my ass and take my name once again. I keep gettin' older, the moshing masses stay the same age, and Social D keeps on crankin', not missing one beat along the way. Mike Ness is still the same tatted up, slicked back 'do, axe-wielding frontman extraordinaire, bringing the heat for a furious 90-minute set of good old fashioned punk rock.

And really, who are the top dogs of punk these days? The icons haven't aged as well as their counterparts in other genres, quite fittingly. Joe and three Ramones are dead, Jello's gone politics, Henry Rollins is on my television, and Television never made it out of the 70's. Fugazi must have realized that charging $5 a show in Adams Morgan is the most decent and honorable road to poverty. And please don't mention the Pistols alongside these stalwarts.

Meanwhile, the resurgence of punk that we saw in the 90's has faded. Rancid and Bad Religion seemed to peter out, and only Green Day has really lasted . . . shedding its punkitude quite a bit along the way. The Murphys entertain, but really, for my money, there's nobody out there who's been doing it as long (c. 1978) or as consistently well as Social Distortion. I'm right, aren't I?

Pearl Jam thinks so, too. They've tapped the band to open for them a couple of nights next week at the Spectrum. The big halls aren't Social Distortion's milieu (and I should get my eye socked in for using the word "milieu" in the same sentence as "Social Distortion"), but even in the cavernous, concrete William & Mary Hall they ripped it pretty well in '91. Could be a good one.

Tuesday the band opened with a trio of tunes they released the same year that "Billie Jean" came out, then launched into "Sick Boys." Later, they took it up a notch with stuff to be included on an album due next year. Mike Ness has always had the same stage banter; it still has more F-words than Merriam-Webster's, amusing and inspirational in 30-second bursts. The band lost their longtime guitarist early this decade, but they sounded great again. My expectations were pretty high for the show, having seen them in Norfolk three years ago. Expectations superseded.

These guys are top of the heap in punk rock, bar none.

Best of Tuesday:

"Ring of Fire" -- still my favorite version

"Highway 101", "Reach for the Sky" -- couple of killers from 2004's Sex, Love, & Rock 'n' Roll

"Don't Drag Me Down (motherfucker)" -- the lead-in was as preachy as Mike Ness gets, a funny contrast to seeing Bono a few weeks ago: "this song's about racism and ignorance . . . 1-2-3-4"

"Prison Bound" -- Love this song. I think they played this, or I've listened to Live at the Roxy so damn much lately it's seeping into my reality.

"Ball & Chain" -- Still as good as the first time I heard it.

...closed with "Story of My Life" as they often do. Fan-fucking-tastic.


These days Rob's too old for punk rock shows two hours away on Tuesday nights. Apparently I'm not. And as much as I hung up my slam dancing shoes years ago, I don't see myself passing up any Social D tours for a long time to come. Come join me. They kick some fucking ass, people.

27 comments:

Mark said...

Too bad they hate Florida or I'd be all over seeing them live. Never have, need to make it happen...

Whitney said...

I'll meet you at a venue halfway sometime. Unfortunately, they're about at the end of this leg of the tour. Athens tonight, that's as close as they'll get.

Whitney said...

Leaving soon for Williamsburg. Enjoy the weekend, lads & lasses.

Go Tribe.

Mark said...

Yeah, I checked the tour dates hoping they might make to Orlando when you first mentioned this tour. No dice. I may have to make a trip out of it next tour. Who knows how many more real tours they have left in them...

Dan said...

enjoy - i'll be expecting scoring updates on the gheorghe accompanied with attempted humor at the duke's expense

rob said...

don't they teach apostrophe class at that glorified community college from which you graduated?

Dan said...

DUKES''''''''!!!!
Sorry.
I wish you the Tribe the best of luck tomorrow. Really.

rob said...

attaboy, danny. i smell a trap for the tribe, to be honest. jmu's better than their record, even without dudzik.

rob said...

dear abby,

i never thought this would be true, but i'm rooting for the philadelphia eagles to beat, no, embarrass the washington redskins on monday. i'm rooting for epic failure and graphic disarray on the part of washington's offense and generally bemused disinterest on defense. you see, if the skins win, and if the offense looks remotely competent, the villainy and smug douchitude of team snyder/cerrato is vindicated. and that simply can't happen.

signed,
temporary eagles fan

TR said...

So you're gonna root for a dog killer's team?

Dan said...

should be a good one. too bad about my boy "dudzy"
have fun. will be thinking of day's past and my many'a great visits to tribeland. GO DUKES.

zoltan said...

It's time to find a new team when you find yourself rooting against your current one. Declare yourself a free agent. Notify the other 31 teams that you're available and see what they will do to land you. I've heard of people doing this before.

rob said...

technically, tr, i'm rooting *against* dan snyder. it's a loophole - i've reviewed the contract. unlike jim zorn.

TR said...

So, apparently Tracy Morgan said this in an interview with NPR. Seems like it would fit better under our Ghostface content:

"He then lightened the mood by talking about how much he loves assholes: “I like fucking ass! Ain’t nothin’ like the butthole. The ass is a delicacy, goddamn it. I’d put hot sauce on it.”


Ain't nothing like the butthole, indeed.

Geoff said...

Rob, I'm completely with you on this one. I have no interest in a competitive or even mildly incompetent Redskins loss. We've seen that once a week for the last few years. I want complete and utter chaos. I want three timeouts in the first three plays, Jason Campbell gesturing to the sidelines with no clue and Albert Haynesworth running the wildcat while Sherm Lewis misses three plays because his prostate is acting up and he was in the john. I want thunderdome.

cgormley said...

That '91 one show was awesome. Only about 300 hundred people showed up for the Social D set. They were followed by Sonic Youth who were simply amazing. Nothing like playing slide guitar with a screw driver. And headlining that night was Neil Young and Crazy Horse hot off the release of Weld. Damn good show all around.

rob said...

'i want thunderdome'. i love that. that's it in a nutshell. i want people to talk about this game for decades. i want chaos and destruction and carnage. i want jaws and gruden hypoxic from laughter. i want replay after replay of danny's head slowly exploding in technicolor, high-definition glory. i want a wayans brother, or perhaps wesley snipes, riding a horse through the field brandishing a pistol.

rob said...

i want cerrato reprising the kevin bacon role from animal house. i want loud techno swelling over the p.a. late in the 3rd quarter, sonny screaming 'wait, that...that's zorn's music', followed by the erstwhile play-caller suplexing sherman lewis, stealing the playsheet and calling for a counter-trey. and then i want riggo to slowly walk onto the field dressed in full battle regalia, take a handoff from todd collins, and blast into the end zone. after which he'd walk purposefully through the stands, gathering followers as he went all the way to the owner's box, where he'd pull out the kurgan's sword and tell danny 'there can be only one' right before lopping off his head.

Mark said...

I want a chicken salad sandwich.

Shlara said...

Jamison will now be out 3-5 weeks of the regular season. Are the Wiz REALLY going to do the mediocre, injury-plagued, minimal win season again? I don't think I can take it!

rob said...

shlara, this is the segment on the program where we post irrational rants about nonsensical stuff. like chicken salad sandwiches. the real-world maladies of nba franchises will be discussed later.

Dave said...

i can remember the days when whitney would see a scrap, hand me his shoes, and jump right in.

zoltan said...

Our bodies are designed to scrap barefoot. Good for Whitney.

rob said...

comedy circle!

rob said...

army has a 6'10" wide receiver. i don't know what to make of that.

TR said...

Know what I make, Rob? You need to find something better to watch tonight. This game, like Rutgers, is brutal to watch.

TR said...

Whit - If you have Fox Soccer Channel, you can watch the lads from Liverpool get their arse handed to them by Man U at 10 AM on Sunday morning.