Not many bands that formed in the ‘70s are still around today, and if they are, they most likely are not still residing on the front lines of rock, playing sold out shows, and releasing new music as steadily as Social Distortion. This past week the SoCal legends took over The Music Box to performance a live set and premiere the short film for their song “Machine Gun Blues.” The line for the event stretched around the block, forming three-and-a-half hours before the show even began, and everyone from KROQ’s DJ Stryker to Jackass’s Chris Pontious was in attendance.
Inside the venue, the floor filled up quickly as people rushed to get to the front row. Behind me, I heard story after story from the fans about the last time they saw Social D, which doesn’t surprise me as the band’s career has spanned over four decades. But the crowd wasn’t full of fans that left their kids at home with a babysitter for the night—the audience held it’s share of teens also. I think one of the most impressive aspects of Social D is their power to continuously generate a new fan base among different generations.
Then the time came for the short film “Machine Gun Blues,” which starred the band in a shoot em’ up story that took us back to a time when fedoras were cool and tommy guns were an accessory. The film starts out showing Mike Ness getting his shoes shined in an old timey bank by none other than his own son, Johnny Rios-Ness. What follows is a merciless bank robbery that involved gun-filled guitar cases, civilian shootings, and even a moment when Mike Ness’ character looks a service member in the eye and blows him away. The bandits escape the bank and drive down the orange tree-lined streets of North Hollywood before having a final shoot out during which Mike Ness’ character is finally shot down, only to have the shoe shiner find his guitar case and inside, instead of a gun, he finds a guitar and walks off with his newfound love.
The crowd erupted in cheers and applause after the film and begged the band to come out on stage. After a fifteen-minute break, KROQ’s DJ Stryker came out to introduce the band and that’s when the party really began. This was no mini-set as the band played for a full hour and a half. It only took a few songs for a mosh pit to form, and from then on, it felt like the whole building was on the move. Whether it was people moving on the GA floor or the continuous line at the bars, the fast-paced setlist fit the vibe of the night perfectly. Social D rocked from beginning to end, and I don’t think they are slowing down anytime soon.
For more on Social Distortion: