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Social Distortion @ Fox Theater Pomona 3/11/17. Photo by Constantin Preda (@ctpredaportraits) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Social Distortion @ Fox Theater Pomona 3/11/17. Photo by Constantin Preda (@ctpredaportraits) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

It’s Saturday night in the quaint and artsy city of Pomona, California and as I make my way toward the Fox Theater, I walk through night markets that smell of sizzling Mexican food, past cafes, and hole-in-the-wall venues with unknown bands playing in old, glass storefronts. I like it here and I already want to come back. However, tonight, I am here to see a legendary band at the Fox. The marquee on the theater brightly states, “SOCIAL DISTORTION” and under those letters, at a jaunty angle, the words “Sold Out.”

Now, the Pomona Fox Theater is no stadium, but it’s no closet either-  it’s a 2000 capacity venue- and to know that a band that started in 1978 only 20 miles from here in Fullerton, California can still inspire the loyalty of listeners who probably heard their first Social D song on a turntable, it’s a testament to a post-punk / cow-punk band with rockabilly sentiments and an identity embodied by founding front man Mike Ness.

Social Distortion @ Fox Theater Pomona 3/11/17. Setlist.With his stark white button down tuxedo shirt, black suspenders, classic 1940s style slacks, and tattooed skin, his presence on stage is forthright, confident, sincere, (he’s got the power stance down pat) and the 39 years he’s been touring, performing, and writing seem to be inscribed in the shadow cast by his flat cap and the bristle and creases of his 54 year old face.

But that’s no 54 year old up on Fox’s stage. In someways, that’s still the angry punk rocker who was tossed out of his home when he was 15 years old and welcomed Orange County, CA miscreants, artists, and musicians as his foster family, leading to the band on stage now. That’s a powerhouse vocalist with one of the most unique voices in American Rock and Roll. His gravely, train-hopping, trash fire, guttural singing style is to post-punk what Johnny Cash was to country. It is distinguished and one-of-a-kind.

Backed by Johnny Wickersham, Brent Harding, and David Hidalgo on drums, Social D flawlessly performs their catalogue of recognizable and radio friendly tunes from “Ball and Chain”, “Story of My Life”, and of course the song Johnny Cash made famous “Ring and Fire” — which seems an appropriate cover for Mike Ness – plus he and his band probably introduced that song to a generation of music fans who most likely often said “I like all kinds of music…except country.”

The Social D tour continues north to Oregon and then Washington before veering off to Boise, Boulder, and Tempe but will return to The Pomona Fox Theater on April 7th. Shows have been selling out, so if you want to experience a rare history in rock and roll, get tickets now. Make it part of the story of your life.

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