Every once in awhile, a band comes along that changes you life. In some instances, it might be the discovery of a band that was making music before you were alive (or maybe a band whose debut album came out the year you were born – and the title of the album matches your initials. Maybe). For me, one of those bands is the legendary Social Distortion. I will admit that by growing up on the East Coast, not here in sunny Southern California, my introduction to Social D was later in life (I didn’t get to see them live until I was in college). I devoured the band’s earlier work and any fan will tell you that 1990’s self titled album is a classic, full of the kinds of songs you immediately think of when you think of Social Distortion.
Now, more than a few years later, and after seeing them over 20 times, I had the opportunity to shoot the 25th Anniversary tour of that same self-titled album at the incomparable Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA. This sold out show had the makings for a memorable night – the excited buzz of the crowd, a perfect summer evening, and opening bands that set the scene.
One thing I love about seeing Social D live is that you never know what to expect in terms of the set list. When they do multiple-night runs here in LA, it is safe to assume the set list changes night to night; even the slightest chance to hear your favorite song encourages the crowd to come back for more. As with many of these anniversary shows, it was known that the album would be played in its entirety, but knowing this information did not take away my excitement to hear “Ball and Chain,” “Sick Boy,” and “Story of My Life” live (yes, I have actually seen them once when they did NOT play SOML). They played the album in order, minus “Ring of Fire,” which was saved for the encore. Some things never change.
After the album, the band continued playing some well known tunes for the crowd, including “Cold Feelings,” “Alone & Forsaken,” and “Far Behind” before closing out with the Johnny Cash singalong. The Greek Theater is not the kind of venue where you see these kinds of shows often, but it was a special night celebrating one of the best albums by one of the best punk bands of the last 35 years.
Check out a few of our images from the show below!