2022 seems like such a blur; it took a lot, but gave back much more. Despite a little bad luck of late, December 12th was definitely a night on the plus side as Social Distortion took the stage at House of Blues, Anaheim.
We were originally looking forward to a rock ‘n’ roll weekend, but COVID seemed to always keep us prison bound. For OC locals, we went down to the old neighborhood to take in a show that we have been waiting for.
Opening for Social D this night was Greg Antista and the Lonely Streets. Based on the crowd that rolled in, it was destined to be a ruckus night. Antista was on lead guitar and vocals, Frank Agnew also sported a lead guitar and shared the mic. Warren Renfro slapped the bass, and Jorge Disguster was on skins.
I don’t know which it was, but the band was electric, and postmodern in their sonic delivery. With a fresh electrifying sound, the Lonely Streets were sharp and delivered the punch the crowd really needed. Antista stood at the mic channeling a young Elvis Costello with his posture while communing with us with his Joe Strummer-esque vocal prowess that took command of the HOB.
As the lights dimmed, they came out strong with a few favorites, “Rosalita,” “Halfway to Whole,” “”Carmelita,” “U-Haul,” “Shiver,” and crowd favorite “Tijuana Jail.” If it wasn’t that they were opening for Social D, the crowd was very happy to hear a more robust set for Greg Antista and The Lonely Streets. Because it was a Social D show, it was an abbreviated set and they closed out to an animated crowd cheering them on to “Goodnight Ramona,” “Feel Alright,” and their closer, “Finally Say Goodbye.” They were definitely the right band to open this show.
As the crowd took a short collective breath, nobody had a bad disposition, they were amped to see Mike Ness and the boys. Truthfully, the anticipation was insane, it made minutes seem like hours, but as soon as the lights went down, everyone became brothers and sisters, and they were set to take in the ultimate rock show.
As soon as Social D took the stage, the crowd lost its mind. Immediately a mosh pit erupted as Ness opened with “So Far Away,” then immediately segued into “Reach for the Sky.” What was striking for me is that the crowd consisted of everyone you can think of (race, age and nationality). Everyone was there to support the local legends.
The guys took the stage, Ness in all black, sporting a Johnny Cash vibe, and as always…. with a flower at the end his guitar for his Mrs.
December 12, 2022
Brent Harding was on bass, Josh Jove was on guitar and filling in for Johnny Two Bags; and David Hidalgo, Jr. was on drums. They all appeared to be pumped for this hometown show.
Like all the greats do, Ness engaged with the crowd. Not just with their music, but he shared stories of his time as a teen walking the streets of Orange County. It’s those type of interactions that have endeared him to not only people in his home of Orange County, but those worldwide who have walked in those shoes he once wore as a young man.
What was even more fascinating was watching that mosh pit, and like a reverse phoenix, a crowd surfer arose from the depths of the floor, it was a 60-something-year-old woman and you could tell the crowd was handling her with care as they deliver her to the front of the stage which drew a wink and a smile out of Ness. What was even more entertaining was when a 20-year-old emerged from the depth of the crowd and was promptly dropped before he made it to the photographer’s barricade.
As you can imagine, Social D played an array of favorites and covers, such as “Mommy’s Little Monster,” and “Wicked Game,” yes the Chris Isaak “Wicked Game” and then went into “Machine Gun Blues.”
As usual, the crowd was taken by one of the sincerest songs around, “When the Angels Sing.” The mayhem continued with the hit parade, “California (Hustle and flow),” “Ghost Town Blues,” and “Don’t’ Drag Me Down.” They even snuck in some more recent tunes, “Tonight,” and “Over You.”
As you can imagine, a “Standing O” was in order from the appreciative crowd. It didn’t take long for the guys to re-emerge. Like a 747 taking off, the decibels in that joint exploded and was off the charts with “Born to Kill.”
Just when you thought it could get louder, OC proved why it’s the home of these icons as they closed the night with “Ball and Chain,” then their tribute to the man in black, their Johnny Cash cover of “Ring of Fire.”
What I enjoyed most about the show was watching the happy faces of all in attendance. As I walked out to my car I heard a guy, who maybe had a drink or 10 in him singing… “When she began to rock, I began to roll!”