September 30, 2014 Social Distortion dominate The Paramount Huntington, NY 9-5-14
Social Distortion is perhaps one of the most important bands in the history of punk rock music. Formed back in 1978 in Fullerton, CA by guitarist/ vocalist Mike Ness, the band has faced adversity and come out on top time and time again. While the supporting lineup has changed a bit over the years, Ness along with guitarist Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham and bassist Brent Harding have been together for over a decade now while former Suicidal Tendencies drummer, Dave Hidalgo Jr., joined the fold back in 2010. Keeping their legacy alive the band has been touring regularly, and in the midst of a September tour they came to The Paramount in Huntington, NY Friday the 5th to play a sold-out show with support from Johnny 2 Bags and The Whigs.
Kicking off the weekend early was Social Distortion’s Jonny two Bags. Joining up with Social Distortion back in 2000 after the passing of founding member Dennis Danell, Jonny has endeared himself to fans with passion and raw ability. Taking on his first solo recording back in 2012 with the Hope Dies Hard 7″, his debut full-length album titled Salvation Town was released in April of 2014. Displaying a classic acoustic sound Jonny took the stage singing affectionately as he strummed his guitar performing songs like “One Foot in the Gutter.” Thanking Social Distortion for the chance to open the show, Jonny won over the crowd with great lyrics and a human approach. Playing songs like “How Many Hearts (Will you destroy today)?” and “Hope Dies Hard.” his set was a winning opening worth arriving early for.
Next on the schedule was Athens, GA band The Whigs. Known for their garage rock sound, the band has shared the stage with the likes of Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club since their inception in 2002. A three-piece act consisting of lead singer/ guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Timothy Deaux, The Whigs were ready to roll for their first ever performance on Long Island. Highlighting material for their latest album Modern Creation, The Whigs jammed out songs like “Hit Me,” “Friday Night,” and “Modern Creation.” Distorted and unprocessed, The Whigs the sound is pure rock complemented by a great stage presence that see’s all members sweating out all they have. Playing on with a mix of older songs along with newer ones like “The Particular” and closing with a great cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” this was a set full of excitement and celebration of music. Check out Modern Creation as well as the rest of their discography to see what this band is all about.
The time had come for Social Distortion to take over the stage. Returning to The Paramount for the first time since 2012, Long Island was ready for their return as they sold out the venue with ease as people stood on the floor elbow to elbow. With a stage set-up featuring road signs and the classic Social Distortion skeleton backdrop draped behind Hidalgo’s drum kit, fans were ready to explode in anticipation. As the hum of energy simmered on the ground the stage began to rattle as Social Distortion came out to a thunderous roar that did not seem to settle until the final song. Ness came out dressed in fedora and looking extremely classy opening with 1996 track “Through These Eyes.” Having everyone bouncing and having a great time, Ness’ guitar was heavy and thick and voice as vital as ever with him enticing fans to join in with the singing. Mixing in songs from their 2011 album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes such as instrumental “Road Zombie” and “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown” along with fan favorites like “The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You),” “Cold Feelings,” “Dear Lover,” and more, this set was a balanced attack of Social Distortion’s history.
As the night moved on, bodies swayed in the jam-packed pit area through other tracks like “Ball and Chain” and the adored Hank Williams cover “Six More Miles.” Wearing his heart on his sleeve, it is easy to see Ness does not hold back his emotion and performing these songs is like therapy for the songwriter. As the set ended with “Story of My Life.” everyone screamed for more and more and they received it with an encore begun with “Sometimes I Do.” Taking a moment to address the sold out theater as he did all night long, Ness conveyed the next song is a release for him as he went into solo tune “Misery Loves Company.” Heartfelt and real the words are just a sample of the immense talents this lyricist possesses. Gracious to hear the song the audience applauded and the final offering of the night was a monstrous cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire.”
Social Distortion has an enduring quality to which generations of fans have gravitated. The reliability of the songs that have sincere feelings and unstaged aggression is why this band is so very important to music in general. Their performance at The Paramount was lively and gave this audience a wonderful beginning to their weekend. Relishing the escape from reality fans exited the venue yet again fulfilled by the great Social Distortion.