Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Lucero/Social Distortion

Social D., yo. What more needs to be said? (Aside from, “Buying music at the grocery store, what!?”)

Before I get started on this one, I have to tell y’all that Social Distortion has a very special place in my heart. I spent a good decade (1998-2008) in cultural exile, by which I mean only listening to the classic rock station, buying music at Whole Foods and getting my (musical) news from Rolling Stone — okay, perhaps not so much cultural exile as descent into premature middle-age – and as you might have guessed, I didn’t go to a whole lot of shows during this time. The few I did attend were either Bon Jovi or Social D. (The epiphany that prompted my return to modern rock occurred at a Bon Jovi show, but that is a story for another time.)

Back then my sister had to coax me out, arguing that Social D hardly ever came east and I shouldn’t miss seeing them play. Things are different now, obviously, but their shows still feel like a special treat. This particular one also featured Lucero, who I honestly had forgotten was going to be there, and so was pleasantly surprised to see them.


After listening to their set, I concluded I’d like to see them at their own show, somewhere other than the big cavern that is Roseland Ballroom. They didn’t get lost in it, but something about the ambiance was off. They have a big heavy country sound – this might seems like a contradiction in terms but I promise you it isn’t – and I think I might have gotten more into it at, say, Irving Plaza or the Bowery Ballroom. In any case, I only took a few pictures before I retreated to our spot on the risers. There was a big column blocking my view of the stage, but being up away from the crowd where I could breathe was well worth it.

At one point I did try to see if I could wiggle my way back in to edges of the pit to get some shots of Social D, but there were just too many people. So here’s the view from the risers:


Brent Harding


Brent Harding, Mike Ness

In the end I didn’t really care that I couldn’t really see them all that well. I could hear them just fine, and the power of Mike Ness’ voice has not diminished one bit. Plus they played my favorite song – Ball and Chain – and it occurred to me that I used to sing along because I could identify with the sentiments (I’m sick, and I’m tired, and I can’t take any more pain) and now I sing along because I did actually manage to slip loose of my metaphorical ball and chain. Though I do still sometimes buy music at the grocery store. Anyway, in conclusion: Thank you, Social D, for keeping me company during those bleak times, and I look forward to seeing you (and perhaps actually seeing you) the next time you come around.

— Jennifer

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