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Social Distortion heats up The Wedge
October 3, 2009 - Andy Gray
There aren’t many punk bands that take the stage to the sounds of Billie Holiday.
Then again, there aren’t many punk bands like Social Distortion.
The SoCal rockers returned to The Wedge in Austintown Friday, greeted by another sold out crowd. It may have been cool and drizzly outside, but it couldn’t have been much hotter inside as the band ripped through a 90-minute set following openers Middle Class Rut and The Strangers.
Mike Ness led the band through the expected favorites – “Bad Luck,” “Mommy’s Little Monster,” “Ball & Chain” and its cover of the Johnny Cash hit “Ring of Fire” – while including a few new songs, “Can’t Take It With You” and “Bakersfield” in the main set and the anthemic “Still Alive” in the four-song encore.
The encore also included a great cover of Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken.’’ Ness name checked Williams as one of Social D’s influences, along with bands like the Rolling Stones and The Ramones. He told the audience that if Williams and Sid Vicious were locked in a room together, Williams would be the one to emerge alive.
New drummer Atom Willard and bassist Brent Harding laid down furious rhythms but were able to deliver a more bluesy beat when required, and Ness and Jonny “2Bags” Wickersham traded guitar licks throughout the set. “Nickels and Dimes,” a song they co-wrote for the 2004 release “Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” also was one of the musical highlights.
“Story of My Life” wrapped the show and as the crowd filed out, I kept thinking how under-used the Wedge is as a concert venue. With a big stage, clear sightlines and room for about 1,000 people, it’s a great place to see a show. And the crowd that came out Friday (on a high school football night in the Valley, no less) proves there’s an audience hungry for it.
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Mike Ness of Social Distortion (Photo by Andy Gray)