Social Distortion Rocks The Paramount Huntington, NY 8-5-17 w/ Jade Jackson

There must be an incredibly high caliber of energy and devotion to keep a Rock band alive for almost forty years. This by far rings true for legendary Southern California’s Social Distortion who has been one of the recognized names amongst generations of punks. Formed during the onset of the early Californian Punk scene in the late 1970s, the legendary band has become revered as one of the founding fathers of the genre alongside others such as Adolescents, China White, and T.S.O.L.. Not always a smooth ride, through years of hiatus and personal struggles, Social Distortion founder Mike Ness has successfully built back up the landmark name of the band, bringing their brand of Punk in all its glory on the road for consistent touring. 

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1990 self-titled album back in 2015 with a tour, following a brief break from heavy touring in 2016, Social Distortion returned in the spring and summer of 2017 for a run with special guests Jade Jackson. Consisting of shows coast-to-coast, the summer’s entirety ran from late July through early September, and on Saturday, August 5, 2017, it rolled into Huntington, New York to visit The Paramount.

Starting the night off right was California Country Rock diva Jade Jackson. A small town singer-songwriter that is taking the world by storm, Jackson is part of the Anti- record label and released her debut album Glided earlier in 2017. Having a strong passion for music since she was young, ironically, Social Distortion is the band which inspired her to become a musician after seeing them in concert when she was 13 years old. Now, not only did she work with Ness on Glided, she is also out on tour with them. 

Coming onto to stage casually, Jackson was in high spirits as she offered the crowd her blend of original music that is best described as heartfelt and emotional. Featuring catchy hooks and a voice that is equally breathtaking as well as haunting, Jackson played tracks including “Finish Line,” “Bridges,” and “Better Off.” Receiving a positive reaction from the audience who were captured by her singing and thoughtful lyrics, her set also included new songs such as “Long Way Home,” leaving one wondering, could she be releasing more music sooner than later? Delightful, by the time Jackson and her band bowed out of the limelight, they earned a warm round of cheers from an audience who would gladly welcome her back to Long Island in the future. 

Speaking of an excited audience, as the night grew old, the venue was packed to capacity as t-shirts of Punk bands from New York to California were adorned everyone from Rancid to the Dropkick Murphys, to the Descendents. Of course there were also Social Distortion t-shirts and the landmark logo everyone knows and loves represented. This was an exciting evening for everyone. One, it was a night with a legendary act, and two, it was Social Distortion’s first visit to The Paramount since September 5, 2014. A nearly four year absence, the energy was palpable as dedicated followers anxiously awaited the sets start. 

Ness (lead vocals/lead guitar), Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Brent Harding (bass/backing vocals), David Hidalgo, Jr. (drums/percussion), and David Kalish (keyboards/Hammond organ) waited behind closed curtains to make their entrance, and as Social Distortion was announced, all eyes immediately turned to the stage as they kicked off with 2011’s “Still Alive.” Followed was “99 to Life” from their 1992, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell; the Blues Rock tune moved just like a Country ballad. Thereafter, “Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown” took it back to more present time with a Pop Punk riff and smooth vocal delivery from Ness.

After a handful of career-spanning deep cuts, the audience roared once the opening chords of “Ball and Chain” could be heard, one of the band’s most successful singles to date. The signature tune was so driven and melodic, it is still one of their most cherished songs, and it was evident by the inspired reaction. Keeping the energy high, they dished out “Another State of Mind,” Johnny Two Bags’ “Hope Dies Hard,” and “When She Begins.” Although, perhaps the biggest surprise came when the band exclaimed that they wanted to try out a new song from their forthcoming 2018 album. Doing so, they played a track entitled “Scars,” which featured churning guitars and a chord progression that Social Distortion is known for. 

A welcomed gift to hear new music, the set came to a quick close following Ness’ tearful introduction to “Mass Hysteria.” In fact, before even striking the first chords, he explained that he wrote the song after a mass shooting in the 1990s, and never thought it would rise to be a daily occurrence. A terrible reality of modern society, the band played the song through as the lights slowly dimmed, making for an emotional moment. 

As Ness tipped his hat and waved goodnight to the crowd, the audience cheered for more. Thankfully more came as the band returned to play four more songs, which included throwbacks to their eponymous chart-topper such as “Story of My Life,” “Angels Wings,” as well as Ness’ solo track “Misery Loves Company.” Not to be withheld, the audience roared as Ness introduced the band’s infamous cover of “Ring of Fire.” Complete with a catchy lick, Social Distortion’s version has proved to be a match for the timeless classic.

All in all, Social Distortion put together a comprehensive set that sampled some of the best work from their groundbreaking history. Having control of the room and keeping the adrenaline pumping, it was a show well-worth the near four year wait. As for the rest of the national tour, Social Distortion will no doubt continue to play to packed houses. Looking ahead, post-production for their 2018 album is to follow, so get ready for the exciting return that promises to be as soulful and powerful as ever. 

Photo credit: Ken Buglione Photography

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