Social Distortion Brings Their Anniversary Party to Indianapolis

Opening up the  25th anniversary  tour of the 1990 release of \”Social Distortion\” would be  Fort Collins, CO. Alt-Country outfit,  Drag the River.  Unfortunately for Drag the River, The Egyptian Room was only sparsely filled.  Those in attendance were treated to a to a tight knit, thirty minute set from obvious long time musicians. Co-vocalists, Chad Price &  John Snodgrass were on point in Indianapolis by fusing strong songwriting, beautiful harmonization.  I\’ll admit (as I hang my head in shame) that I wasn’t familiar with Drag the River. Oddly enough though, there was something in those organic vocals from Chad Price that was buzzing in my ear.  I just  couldn’t seem to put my finger on what it was. Oh well, just listen, enjoy and don’t over think it you idiot, I told myself.  That voice was something that was stuck in my craw, if you will, I couldn’t get around it. Having driven three hours, I had plenty of time to think….. Guess what, half way home, I added 2+2 and got 438! Chad Price + Fort Collins, CO = ALL!   It hit me like a fucking lightning bolt!

On the stage for our enjoyment next was the Nashville based country singer/songwriter, Nikki Lane.  Miss Lane has a grace and charm about her as well as an angels voice. It took all of ninety seconds for the entire audience to be drawn in and captivated by her soft sided outlaw story telling. Lane was an interesting addition to the shows line-up, yet to her credit, her performance didn’t feel out of place. Conversely, anyone who knows anything about Mike Ness knows that both of the openers unequivocally placed and most likely shared space on Ness\’ regular  iTunes playlist.

At this point in the evening there was a robust energy that had blanketed The Egyptian Room. I won\’t be pretentious enough to say that the city of Indianapolis was a buzz because Social Distortion was in town. What I will say is that everyone in attendance shared a common bond in their love and adoration for Mike Ness and the music of Social Distortion.  I\’m not sure that I am a gigantic fan of the current trend of full-album anniversary shows that seem to be taking place although, I do see the significance of them though.  Hell, for a band that’s seen its share of hard times and tragedies, twenty five years is a monumental occasion. Most marriages don’t seem to make it half that.

As the band took their places on stage, the crowd greeted them with a grateful roar. Social Distortion reciprocated by jumping in with both feet right into So Far Away, Let It Be Me & crowd pleaser Story of My Life. Unfortunately, Ness\’ mic seemed to have some technical issues but the band persevered. Honestly,  I\’m not sure that the audience even noticed. Sick Boy, Ball and Chain were next to on the menu.  Strangely, It Coulda\’ Been Me seemed to have the most bravado and larger than life feel of the entire set.

Of the sixteen song ninety minute set, Social Distortion\’s  eponymous  release only has ten tracks on it, so the real question for me was what other songs would Ness decide to add into the set. With 34 years under their belt as a band, there\’s a fairly large catalog of possibilities. In typical Mike Ness fashion and most likely needing to give the fifty-two year old vocal cords a minute to catch up jumped into a bluesy jam to \”kill some time\”.

Of the six \”filler\” songs that were chosen the most interesting was a cover of the Rolling Stones tune \”Wild Horses\”.  It was definitely not a cover that I expected to hear. Alone and Forsaken , This Time Darlin\’ , Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown finished out the set. Ness & crew returned for a two song encore of Folsom Prison Blues and wrapping up this celebration of sorts was the revved up Johnny Cash staple, Ring of Fire.

Of the numerous times  that I\’ve seen  Social Distortion live it was refreshing to  hear a few deeper cuts that I didn’t think I\’d ever hear. Taking a guided tour down memory lane  with a legend leading the way was pretty fucking special too!


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