Social Distortion. The Rave in Milwaukee. Saturday night. Three pretty amazing things in and of themselves if you ask me, but mix them together and you get nirvana. No not the damned band "Nirvana", rather the "an ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy" (thanks Yahoo!) and nirvana may have just been achieved.
Having never been to "The Rave / Eagles Club" before, I was a little worried honestly, I really wasn't sure to expect as the images I had conjured up were of old men, in a stuffy room, smoking cigars and drinking "Old Milwaukee". I kind of anticipated a large edifice with an eagle statue on the front, and upon entering a large stuffed eagle or two (the Eagle lodge in our town used to have one), and to my surprise, I was completely wrong.
What I saw was a venerable old building, with so much character it felt like it was oozing on me, and as we entered the bottom floor of the building I was taken aback with the seemingly cave like experience. I was amazed as we entered the main floor, there was nothing cave like there and the posters of all of these acts that had played there, I had found nirvana.
Despite a mix up with our seats, we had an excellent view of the stage from the balcony, and the cavernous room filled with the sounds Chuck Ragan and another band called "Sharks" (I'll be digging into these two on a later jaunt as the were really, really good), but as this is about Social Distortion, we'll talk about them.
Its been a very long time since I went to a punk concert, but everything was right with the world this night. Mike Ness dressed as the character he portrays in "Machine Gun Blues" came out and virtually assaulted the crowd with a song from their new album, "Road Zombie". As I watched it became apparent that punk still lives and breathes as "The Pit" opened and the crowd began to partake in the taboo "crowd surfing". Ness and the boys, came out firing throwing out some of their classics, "So Far Away", "Mommy's Little Monster", and "Bad Luck".
Ness, ever the showman prodded the crowd occasionally poking fun at Green Bay and stoked the fire of the jam packed floor, when he dedicated "Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown" to them. Their performance never had an ebb and flow, it had a tsunami of sound and an entire room full of background singers and a palpable energy that far exceeded the energy pumping through their amps.
Social Distortion (Mike Ness, Jonny Wickersham (guitar), Brent Harding (bass), Danny McGough (keyboards) and David Hidalgo, Jr. (drums)), played a concert like no other, at no point did they forget the crowd, they just kept up that massive energy. New songs, old songs, they could have sang the telephone book and they would have gone crazy.
As is the norm for all bands, Social D., came out for an encore and unfortunately for me, the three songs they played were the songs that I have this odd attraction to: "Prison Bound", "Story Of My Life" and the Johnny Cash classic, "Ring Of Fire". Its not too often where it can be said that a band sounds like they do in there recordings, but they could be the closest I have ever heard.
In the hour and a half that Social Distortion pounded out classic after classic (and soon to be classics), the show closed and I left saddened. I was only saddened as Ness explains in the song "Story Of My Life", "good times come and good times go, I only wish the good times would last a little longer", no truer words have been spoken. Given a chance, go see Social Distortion, don't make an excuse, just GO.
Kudos to the band(s), Social Distortion, Chuck Ragan, and Sharks, you left an indelible mark on my music experiences, my musical journey if you will. Thanks to everyone at The Rave, the bands and the crowd, you all made an experience in which I thought would be incredible, even better!