Saturday, April 21, 2007

Social Distortion in Vancouver B.C.

Let me start off by bringing you up to speed. I found out several weeks ago that Social Distortion was coming to Vancouver to play the Commodore Ballroom on April 16th. I later found out that they added a second show. However, as soon as I heard about the first show, I ran inside and got on to purchase tickets. I soon realized that after all the bullshit charges and reach around taxes, that it came to just over $97 for a pair of tickets! "Wow, thats a lot for a punk rock show." I thought.

(this is my drunken rant after the show...)

Now, I have spent more than that on an arena show many times before, despite saying every time that I won't attend another one again. I mean what's the point of spending upwards of $75 per ticket to sit a mile away from the band, confined to your tiny, horribly uncomfortable seat, and experiencing probably the worst possible acoustics imaginable. Time and time again I would do this only to regret the money spent every time. So what do you do if your favorite band is past the playing clubs stage, and attracts more than the 1500 fans, and needs to play a larger venue? Well, for that I don't have an answer that works for everyone. I suppose they could do what Social Distortion did, and play 2 nights at a cool club like the Commodore? But what if they attract a good size under 19 audience? I'm sure lots of kids would have loved to see the legendary Social D, but couldn't. Or, they could play one bullshit show at the PNE Forum, (5000 plus sports arena)? Yeah you can make it all ages, and have a beer garden (with an hour long line-up), but at what cost? The show itself is the shits because you're in a barn and it sounds like it. Now, you can even make it general seating so your not confined to your little cell, but the place is still so big that unless you want to get into the PIT and mosh with the stinky jocko's and over sweaty pre teen emo kids, your stuck a mile away again. The other option that bands seem to exercise is the amphitheater show. I've seen some good shows in these type of venues, but it really depends on the type of band. I still don't like being confined to my seat, but if it's a chilled out show, and I'm able to get a few beers in before taking my seat, I can sometimes deal with it. I saw Wilco a few times in these type of venues and enjoyed the shows immensely. But I've seen others in these same venues, and the show and the band really suffered. My favorite place to see a band is by far a small club. The smaller the better as far as I'm concerned. I've been to shows, seeing pretty large bands, and practically been on stage watching them. Or maybe I just want to be able to have a beer and walk around freely and check the band out from various vantage points in the building? To me this is the ultimate, and the only downside I see, is the non-all ages aspect. Sorry kids, you'll understand when you're a bit older.
(end of drunken rant after the show...)

This brings me to the show. As I mentioned earlier, I was a little miffed about having to spend $50 each on a pair of tickets to a punk rock show at a bar, but having said that, I would rather spend that kind of money and be happy with the show and the venue. The Vancouver crowd was warmed up by the bands I Hate Kate, and local heroes, The Black Halo's. I Hate Kate was alright, nothing special though. The Black Halo's were really cool. Great back-up vocals, and Billy Hopeless is quite the performer. And then, the moment I've been waiting for since 1997's Van's Warped Tour!

The band takes the stage and starts jamming, only to allow a dramatic entrance for punk legend Mike Ness. Ness straps on his ax sporting a paper boy hat and a bandanna covering his face, making him look like a punk rock hobo. He rips into a lead riff and and the pumped up crowd ignites. The jam halts, and they bust into "Reach For The Sky" off their latest record, "Sex, Love, and Rock N' Roll". They blast out about 5 or 6 songs before the inevitable rants from Mike Ness begin. However to be fair, he was pretty good about them on this night, keeping them pretty short. They continued on with favorites like, "Ball and Chain", "Sick Boy", "Mommy's Little Monster", "Prison Bound", and "Bye Bye Baby". They even played the covers, "Under My Thumb", "Ring Of Fire", and the Chuck Berry tune "Maybelline". Surprisingly absent from their set were three of my favorite Social D songs, "I Was Wrong", "Cold Feelings", and "Making Believe".

Although their performance didn't blow me away with their stage show, or give me anything above or beyond my expectations, what they did was completely satisfy my Social Distortion craving. I've wanted to see them for a second time for years, and finally got to. I was looking forward to this show perhaps more so than any other for quite some time, and it didn't disappoint. The sound was pretty good for a punk show, and the Commodore is always a treat. I love seeing 4 musicians on stage that genuinely appear to love what they do. They played their guts out, and left me wanting more. I could have easily listened for another hour, but they new better than to outstay their welcome. I enjoyed it so much so, that I considered purchasing a ticket to the second show, but didn't. $50 for Social D at the Commodore is a bargain as far as I'm concerned, and I envy the lucky folks that got to see night number 2, and the rest of the Canadian dates on this tour. Social D Kicks Ass!

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