You know, with my 25th birthday lurking around the corner, I tend to get the "old man" syndrome at shows recently. "Bah, too many kids, looked at all those X'd hands, don't stand in front of me, I can't see, quit bumping me...", you get the idea. So where does this ranting tie in? Old people love Social D. Maybe because unlike most of their companion bands from "back in the day", they have stood the test of time, or maybe its just music old people like.
If I've said it before, I'll say it again, Nations is one of the worst clubs I've been to. You get practically strip-searched at the door, cameras are not allowed (hence no picture), and the bartenders are complete assholes.
Nonetheless, being a high-capacity club, some pretty good shows roll through, and Social Distortion is always going to draw a sell-out (tickets, not attendees) crowd in DC. Add the pyscho-billy stylings of Tiger Army and the rock-you-like-a-hurricane force of the Explosion, and you've got a show almost worthy of the hefty $35 (with service fee) ticket price.
As I entered, the Explosion were starting their set to what appeared to be a somewhat docile crowd. Though large in numbers, the front area crowd was lacking in the audience participation sought-out by Million-Dollar Matt. The sound itself was extremely tight, as old favorites From "Flash, Flash, Flash" meshed well with the newer material from "Black Tape". As I expected, "Here I Am" sounds amazing live, as opposed to its sugary-sweetness of the track on the Black Tape LP. The closing number was naturally "No Revolution", which I will only acknowledge from Flash, Flash, Flash. Let's just hope this song doesn't become the next "Disconnected".
At the conclusion of the Explosion's set, it was time for the obligatory piss/beer/merch stand trip. Climbing down from the Mad-Max-esque 2nd floor cage, I continued to notice the "older side" of punk rock and began to realize that my "old-man" assessment of myself was beginning to appear less accurate than my initial assumption. Sweet. Forging on through the crowd I found myself in sickening amazement of something I had yet to see in the "exclusive" world of punkrock- $30 t-shirts and a "VISA/MasterCard Accepted" sign at the Social Distortion merch table. Also available were $67 hoodies, $25 "Girly tank-tops" and an $8 sticker pack. I gracefully moved down the table line to the Explosion's setup and purchased (by these pricing standards) a frugal $25 Explosion hoodie.
Moving up to Level 3 of Nations' version of the "Hell-In-A-Cell", I perched to catch Tiger Army's set. Like the Explosion, they too offered a crisp sounding set, with a good mixture of songs from Power of Moonlight and Ghost Tigers Rise. The new bassist (I don't keep up with name changes) sounded amazing playing "Prelude: Death Of A Tiger", and though the audience was full of energy for practically the entire performance, the apex was definitely during "Incorporeal". I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Tiger Army, as its hard to deny their ability, or to talk shit about someone like Nick 13, who I have come to dub over the years as "the nicest guy in punkrock. I mean really, how can you not love a guy that never stops smiling and always has a kind word to say? Great set as usual.
Naturally, Mr. Ness loves to build up a crowd's suspense. He makes you wait 7 years for a new album, so you think he's gonna come out on stage in a timely manner. Hell no. But that's ok Mikey, we don't mind drinking while we wait. As Social D eventually took the stage, Mike briefly greeted the crowd, and shot right in "Ring of Fire". From there, the song bridged into the opener from Sex, Love and Rock n Roll, "Reach for the Sky". Naturally the crowd was singing along to every song, both new and old, with the setlist spanning the band's entire career. Classics like "Mommy's Little Monster", "Sick Boys", "Cold Feelings" and "When She Begins" mingled naturally with newer tunes like "Don't Take Me For Granted" and "Highway 101". The only missing item from the set was the lack of tracks from White Light, White Heat, White Trash. If my memory serves me correctly, and I wasn't too drunk to remember accurately, the only track from the album was their cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb". I left during the second song of the "encore" (that term gets looser and looser everyday), "Story of My Life", which Mike proclaimed would be the last song, so I may have missed something else. But I wanted to escape the soon-to-transpire calamity and clusterfuck in the wallet-raping $10 parking lot before the masses began their departure.
In closing, would I recommend this show? Sure, its a nice break from the current "show scene", and it could be your last chance to see a true music legend.
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