Social Distortion Bring Pulpy Punk to Brooklyn’s Warsaw [Exclusive Photos]
We all know Mike Ness is a connoisseur of vintage junk culture. The Social Distortion frontman is responsible for some of the pulpiest songs in the punk canon, and since 1988's 'Prison Bound,' he's written almost exclusively from the perspective of outlaws, sinners, gangsters, greaseball hoods and doomed film noir protagonists.
Ness is an old-school b-movie, dime-store-paperback kind of guy, but Sunday night at the wonderfully kitschy and intimate Warsaw in Brooklyn, N.Y. (see exclusive photos below), he revealed at least some familiarity with modern trash.
"Life is full of choices," Ness said, thanking the audience for choosing Social D over other available forms of entertainment. "You could have stayed home and watched 'The Real Housewives of Brooklyn.'"
Someday, Ness should just talk for an entire show. His banter is certainly the best thing about 1998's 'Live at the Roxy,' an album that captured the long-running SoCal punk band at the height of its power, two years after releasing its last great LP, 'White Light, White Heat, White Trash.' Social D has dropped two since -- 'Sex Love and Rock 'n' Roll' (2004) and 'Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes' (2011) -- and while both are fine records with their share of keepers, it's no accident that Ness focuses these days on his earlier material.
He opened Sunday's Warsaw gig with 'So Far Away,' the leadoff track on the 1990 self-titled disc that yielded the MTV hits 'Story of My Life' and 'Ball and Chain' -- both aired later, both fantastic.
The aforementioned three tunes, like 'Bad Luck' and 'Cold Feelings' (both from 1992's 'Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell') and the set-closing 'Misery Loves Company,' from Ness' excellent 1999 solo set 'Cheating at Solitaire,' feature simple chord progressions and cliched lyrics seemingly cribbed from tattoo flash posters. But Ness makes them feel profound, the reason being that, like his hero, Johnny Cash, whose 'Ring of Fire' he covered to close the evening, he gives the impression he's lived his characters' lives.
And to some extent, this punk journeyman and former drug addict has -- probably more so than Bogey or Brando or even Cash. He's "seen the things in life you don't want to see," as he sings on 'Through These Eyes,' and he's not just talking about 'Real Housewives of Orange County.'
Check Out More Photos of Social Distortion at the Warsaw in Brooklyn