BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
On a night that was actually cold and windy (not stormy though, that would’ve made for so much more drama), Social Distortion came to set up their mini residency at the Marquee Theatre for two consecutive sold-out shows. I had the pleasure to catch the first one on December 2, 2022, on Friday night, as a band that hasn’t released any new music in over a decade still managed to draw an insane crowd.
It was a bit of an odd show in that there was only one opener whereas most bands down here in the Phoenix Metro have at least two (if not three) opening acts, and it was the second punk show in a row where a more Indie style artist has opened.
Aarron Lee Tasjan is a bit of an interesting fella. He turned down a full ride scholarship to Berklee College of Music to move to New York after high school and…well…here we are now. His latest project which debuted in February 2021 under New West Records explores themes of both sexuality and mental health – both of which are currently a hot trend in not only in the music scene but also to a widening demographic of young music listeners.
The thing that I’ve discovered about younger listeners is that they seek to be identified with, so his new record, “Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!” is not only an honest look through himself, but a smart business decision to make sure that the album finds its way into the hands of those whom it would best suit.
And even though I thought that Tasjan was a strange fit for this act, the old heads seemed to enjoy themselves while watching him perform. He did a few things typical of a rock show, i.e. playing alongside his other bandmates and even dancing a few times during is set. Not surprisingly, Tasjan’s latest album is dedicated to anyone who felt “other” growing up, which I think comprises the majority of those who attend punk shows (and who knows – maybe that was the connecting piece the whole time). If you’re into the Chuck Berry types – this guy might be for you!
Then the curtains were drawn to set the stage for Social Distortion. As the lights dimmed, the sold out venue erupted in applause as the band took the stage to prove that good old-fashioned punk rock is alive and well. And so often when a band has been around for 40 years you sometimes get the feeling that the show is going to be more geriatric than you hope (not saying this happened at Motley Crue…at all…nope…totally not those guys…), but this wasn’t the case at all.
Sure, Social Distortion has been making hits since the early 80s, and while they haven’t recorded any new music since their 2011 release “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” the crowd was as active as ever – complete with both mosh pits and crowd surfers on both sides of the floor.
Now, here’s where I’m going to do something unique for an article. Typically, you just hear my review on the show, or my take on it. So this time, I had the pleasure of speaking with a friend of mine and guitar player Zakk Banks on what he thought of the show that evening.
“It was definitely electric. Not the most high energy set I’ve ever seen from them (they did just have to cancel a show due to the flu, and they were minus their usual guitar player), but the respect Social D demands is omnipresent. Easily one of the more versatile, unique and career spanning sets I’ve seen from them. Ghost Town Blues and 1945 were surprises, but the highlight of the night was easily the Wicked Game cover that I don’t believe has ever been recorded. Mike Ness has been fronting that band for 43 years, and they don’t show any sign of stopping any time soon. A 50-year anniversary tour in the near future would absolutely be a treat for everyone involved, and I hope to see them there!”
Out of 17 tracks Social Distortion presented, two or three were brand new, not recorded tracks as well, so here’s to hoping for a new album in the near future as well! Other notable hits included, “
And if you’re wondering…
The answer is yes.
Mike Ness still looks as menacing as ever, even if nowadays you can manage to track him down on his Honda lawn mower that hasn’t passed emissions.
Ok, that might not be as extreme as taking some time off for rehab or whatever, but once a punk…always a punk.
As always, a big shout-out to the Marquee Theatre staff for running a smooth ship and for working tirelessly to keep all of us safe (your holiday decorations look amazing, by the way!). Punk shows typically tend to bring out the heaviest of drinkers, and I’m here to remind you that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t get too carried away during the opening act so that you have to get yourself tossed out before the headliner. Remember to keep being excellent to each other and to wear deodorant to whatever concert you’re headed to next.
We’ll see ya at the next one!
Aaron Lee Tasjan