Review: Social Distortion at Fox Theater in Pomona
Anytime Social Distortion performs at a venue on or near its home turf, there’s bound to be a particular kind of overarching energy - the sort that stems from mass amounts of local love.
During its latest, rousing return to Southern California on Friday – a sold-out gig at Pomona’s Fox Theater - it was clear that the Orange County-based punk outfit was feeding off that very sentiment.
“It’s goddamn great to be back in California,” said frontman Mike Ness, just after swaggering and soloing through mosh-pit-inciting older cuts, “Sick Boys” and “Telling Them.”
“You don’t realize how good you’ve got it ‘til you get back home,” he added, his genuine inflection drawing raucous applause.
That short speech segued into “Bakersfield” (one of handful from the band’s latest record, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, released just over a year ago), which began a brief round of the band’s more rockabilly and classic rock-toned tracks, including “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown” and “Dear Lover.”
After closing the main set with the hammer-on-heavy “Sometimes I Do” and “Nickels and Dimes” – a song perfectly designed for the spirited sing-along that erupted with it – the outfit returned for a more subdued encore.
At least that was the case for the first three songs: the decidedly ballad-y “Winners and Losers,” an acoustic-based cover of Carl Perkins rockabilly classic, “Let the Jukebox Keep on Playing” (featured on Ness’ 1999 solo album, Under the Influences) and the accordion-tinged Western tune, “Reach For the Sky.”
After that brief ebb, it was back to the balls-out punk-rock that this diverse crowd which visibly ranged in age from early teens to well past 50 undoubtedly came for. Proving the band’s undying relevance since its inception in 1979, the newest ranks of baby-faced Social D fans joined the more grizzled die-hards in a singing, moshing, crowd-surfing frenzy for “Far Behind” and the show-closing cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
Setlist: Bad Luck / So Far Away / Story of My Life / Machine Gun Blues / Sick Boys / Telling Them / Bakersfield / Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown / Dear Lover / Sometimes I Do / Nickels and Dimes. Encore: Winners and Losers / Let the Jukebox Keep on Playing (Carl Perkins cover) / Reach For the Sky / Far Behind / Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash cover).
Photos by David Hall, for OrangeCounty.com.