Social Distortion, Black Halos, I Hate Kate – Live (April 24th, 2007)

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Social Distortion, Black Halos, I Hate Kate

Live (April 24th, 2007) - Edmonton Events Centre - Edmonton, Alberta

While most people will go to a Social Distortion concert for the music, the truth of the matter is that there’s so much more to a Social D show than just that. There is an unmistakable atmosphere there which is worth the ticket price itself. First there is the fashion which is simply amazing and a million times better than the emo trend sweeping the nation. You walk in and take a quick glimpse around and you see a wide variety of styles straight from the fifties and sixties. It’s like a step back in time with the greasers, rockabillies, bikers, greased back hair and collared shirts. The girls don’t disappoint either with their dresses; I don’t think you can complain when there’s a bleached blonde woman walking around in a corset with two red roses in her hair like a ’50s pin-up girl. On top of that is the overall maturity of crowd that is evident just by looking at the merch table. Where you would normally see a mass of kids shoving in front of one another, fighting for positioning and trying to grab the merch guy’s attention stood a well ordered line with everyone patiently waiting their turn to buy a shirt. If only it was it was like that at more shows.

But alas, while the atmosphere and fashion is captivating at the start, the reason everyone is there is the music and first up was I Hate Kate which features the former Zebrahead guitarist and singer Justin Mauriello. They put on a very entertaining set despite being quite different than the headliner. It was obvious Mauriello has been a front man for a while as he patrolled the stage with authority and easily got some crowd participation happening. They played a energetic type of pop-punk and went through songs like I’m In Love With A SociopathBed Of Black Roses and Embrace The Curse. I would definitely happily go out and see them again if they came through town which is something I can’t really say about The Black Halos who played an extremely long forty minute set. A few of their songs were entertaining enough, especially when they brought in the gang vocals, but they all melded together in the end and nothing stood out. The singer was trying too hard and really became laughable by the end of it as he repeated the same tricks with the mic over and over again, timed the throws badly and pulled the wire through his mouth as he tried to slur out the vocals. It got to the point where you just wanted them to leave and for Mike Ness and Social Distortion to take the stage. It was a thirty minute wait between bands, but Ness and the band finally came on stage and showed why Social Distortion are an important band in the history of punk.

It’s been thirty years, but the band is still going strong. Its obvious Ness has aged, but his vocals are still as strong as ever and he never once wavered in intensity. He sang his heart out, entertained the crowd and whipped from side to side to give everyone a good view of his golden guitar during the breakdowns. Not only that, but they catered to everyone’s tastes (except for the one guy who kept requesting 1945) as they sampled tracks from their entire career. Newer tracks like Reach For The Sky, Highway 101 and Nickels And Dimes were mixed in with Mommy’s Little Monster, Ball & Chain, and Gotta Know The Rules. Ness proudly shouted that “Hank Williams is more punk than Sid Vicious ever was” before breaking into a sing-along cover of 6 More Miles which was followed by another cover which I couldn’t recognize that was prefaced by “without good black music, there would be no good white music. We’d still just be sitting on porches blowing into jugs.” They also treated the crowd to a new song,Far Behind, which proves they still know how to write a great punk rock tune and can be downloaded here. For their encore the quickly ripped through Prison Bound, Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire and ended it all off with Story Of My Life. They never went above and beyond anything and never did any crazy stunts, instead they just played the songs passionately and didn’t both with a mass amount of gimmicks.

Social Distortion are legendary, and the fact that they can still put on a great punk rock show thirty years later just shows us newcomers why they are legendary. There is nothing “hip” or “cool” or “trendy” about them. Everyone there was a true fan, and Ness treated them to a night they won’t soon forget.

The set list:
Road Zombie
Reach For The Sky
Highway 101
Under My Thumb
Bad Luck
Mommy’s Little Monster
Lude Boy
When She Begins
Far Behind
Ball & Chain
Gotta Know The Rules
6 More Miles
Bye Bye Baby
Nickels & Dimes
Prison Bound 
Ring Of Fire
Story Of My Life