Yesterday, I finally got to see Social Distortion. It was also the only time I’ve been down to the Stone Pony this season. It’s funny how things happen.  Social D always hits the Stone Pony summerstage somewhere towards the end of summer, and I always want to go, and I never make it.  The fact is, by the end of summer, my wallet tends to be all concerted out, and Social D is no $20 concert. Mind, it’s still very reasonable: once you add on the 20 lbs of ticketmaster fees, it comes in a bit shy of $45. Really, not bad, but when you’re still on financial recovery from whatever else you’ve done over the summer, and depending on scheduling, it can be a bit too rich, whether it’s reasonable or not, especially when you’re prepping for both car insurance and a festival in September.

But, a friend of mine posted a picture of one of their posters on facebook a few weeks ago with a ‘I might want to go to this…anyone?’  And, it sort of felt like fate. I’m normally a solo-concert goer, unless it’s too far to travel.  If you’re going to be driving a ways, it’s just more pragmatic to have company – to keep you awake with talking on the way home.

Anyway, we made our plans, had our tickets.  I’ve been down to the Stone Pony plenty of times, but this was my first time at the Summer Stage, so let me take a minute to talk about how that’s set up:

Basically, the Summer Stages takes over the inside venue, and the lot outside beside it, where they put up a large stage,  a few outdoor bars, merch tables, and a fuck ton of port-a-pottys. We had inside doors at 5, outside doors at 5:30.  There are doors open to go between the two very easily. So, you’ve got an opener or two playing inside early, then you’ve got more openers and the main act outside on the summer stage, and ‘late show’ with another lesser known band who starts playing inside just as everyone is leaving.

Now, normally, I would plan to see every second of music. Guys, really, you know me by now. 🙂  But, I’ve also never been to Asbury Park in August, and this set-up made me concerned I would not be able to see the main stage at all if I went inside to watch the early acts.

So, we ended up leaving at 4:30. Normally, the trek to Asbury for me would take about 40-45 minutes unless traffic is horrible, and at 4 pm going south on a Saturday it almost never is: everyone going to the beach is already there. But, wow, in August, the parking situation in Asbury Park is HORRIBLE.  Yikes.  So we ended up killing a fair bit of time driving around to find parking.  Out of impatience, my cohort and driver eventually opted to just pay $20 for ‘event parking’, which, for the record, is fucking extortion when street parking is, at absolute most, $10 for an entire day and you don’t have to pay for parking at all after around 6 pm. Guess what time it was? Just shy of 6 pm.

So, we get out, start walking, and I have an instant panic as I realize ‘shit, my ticket is sitting in front of my TV.  Now, I can be absent minded, but I have NEVER done that. Concerts are my happy space, but for some reason, I left the fricking thing when loading up my pockets. TG we live in a digital age. I showed my ticket purchase to the girl at the ticket window, she quizzed me on my name and address, and printed me a new one. Phew!

Onward! To get into the summer stage, the main doors are closed, you go around back and are let through the gates. Pass the merch tables. My cohort stopped at one of the booths to swab her cheek and put herself on the bone marrow registry, and then we headed for the stage area.

I wish I had left the tab open with the names of all the bands, BUT, some creative googling makes me able to see the names as long as I don’t click on the links (which go to pages that no longer exist since the event was taken down since yesterday).

Inside openers were The Vansaders:

and The Rooftop (who I can not find on Youtube, so must assume they are very new and/or very local. If you click on videos on the FB Page, you can see a tiny little sound clip).

Now, I didn’t see either of these bands, but one of them was playing when I walked in, but I didn’t actually see them. I’m going to guess it was probably the Vansaders, since generally the band that I can’t find on youtube is the one that plays first, and the first band was set to start at 5:15 – about an hour before we arrived. It’s a guess, though, guys. I don’t know which band I was hearing. But, you know, having their names, if they exist on youtube or elsewhere on the internet, I will find them and check them out, because that is just how I roll.

Now, back to the Summer Stage. (By the way, the weather was unaccountably gorgeous for August – not like last weekend’s Musikfest, where you could have filled a swimming pool with sweat.)

First up was Drag the River:

Drag The River
                                          Drag The River

If these were our openers, I had a pretty good feeling for the evening. This was sort of country rock of a sort. You can see from the above photo my view was questionable at best, but, I saw a tele (with the strap electric taped on. Guys, can I ask why? Repairing a strap lock is easy as hell, unless he’s completely mauled the thing…), I believe a les paul, and while I only got tiny glimpses, I think a Fender Jazz Bass.  They were pretty good, but I should have realized at this point that this was going to be a really interesting musical mash-up.

…but I didn’t until the next act.

Nikki Lane was pure country out of Nashville, which you really don’t anticipate at a rock show.

Nikki Lane
Nikki Lane

Even so, as with every concert you go to, the early act you have some breathing room, and as time progresses, you get more and more sardined. Whatever. You could see though that my view was starting to get a little more limited.  The guitarist to the left, playing a Gretsch w/bigsby, I believe, I wasn’t able to get pics of at all because of someone’s giant head. Then there were two acoustic-electrics, a backup singer complete with tambourine, and the bass I only got the barest glimpse of, but I think may have been a p-bass.

In any case, I’m not a huge fan of the country thing. This was a bit more rockin’ country for the most part, so it was still an enjoyable set, but it was a really unique choice to open for Social Distortion, which can only lead one to believe that Social D just plain likes music in general, and that’s awesome. It was in interesting group for sure, though.

Now, apparently there was some woman throwing ice at the stage. Why? I have no idea. Why are the troublemakers at concerts almost always drunk-ass women?  They’re giving the rest of us a bad rap!  There was more than one rowdy lady escorted out of the concert, I believe.

Anyway! Moving on, everyone was starting to get antsy now because Social Distortion would be next. So, NATURALLY, someone who had been on the sidelines at this point chose to squeeze and elbow his way to the front. Oh, and he was seven fucking feet tall! And stood right dead smack in front of 5’4 me. Bitch!  Guys, do me a favor. If you are 6+ feet tall, and are going to squeeze dead smack front and center to the stage, just get yourself a nice t shirt with the word DOUCHE printed in big bold print on both sides. At least then, when you shove someone who is barely 5’4 and takes up very little space out of your way so you can get 6 inches closer to the stage, at least when I glare death-daggers at your shoulder blades I can be thinking ‘well, at least he’s honest.’

I did the only thing I could do, being fairly small and easily displaced by people who share genetic material with Godzilla: I saw an open area toward the left and nodded my friend that way. The view wasn’t great, but it was as good as someone 5’4 at a rock concert can reasonably expect unless you’re up against the front barrier.  Now, there was another tall guy next to/slightly in front of me. This tall guy I liked. Why? Because I totally noticed as he shifted a few times he glanced down in my general direction. Yes, this was a tall person actually aware there was a short person very nearby whose view he could easily eclipse. I don’t expect miracles, really, but that little bit of acknowledgement of ‘trying not to step directly in front of the short girl’ I appreciate, the same way people appreciate it when they’re trying to take a photo and you walk around them instead of between them.  If your chin is higher than the top of my head, I’m not blocking your view, is all I’m saying, so be nice to short people. At 5’4, there are very few people who’s view I’m going to eclipse, but I do find I always do a quick glance behind me and try to place myself as best I can to wear my head is not directly in front of anyone else’s head. Why? Because I know how much it sucks to finally, FINALLY find an almost decent view (which basically means any view at all) only to have it disappear in an instant.  Tall people seem to take some sick, twisted joy, from ruining it for the rest of us, is all I’m saying.

Ahem, end of the pipsqueak rant, though. Having picked a new spot for better or worse, I waited for the show to start, which was actually a remarkably short wait, compared to some of the other bands I’ve seen.  I was anticipating they were probably supposed to start at 9, but no band ever starts on time, so maybe 9:15. They were on stage and starting to rock around 8:50-8:55.

Social Distortion
Social Distortion: not the best pic, but the closest I got to the full stage. You’ll note there’s a guitarist missing. He was on the far side for me, with godzilla between us. I don’t know that I got any pics of him at all. But, he was wearing a striped shirt; you’ll have to imagine the rest.

(At this point, I’ll mention the full album of photos is on the facebook page: here. There are many more pictures, and better ones. I even got a few decent ones of the bassist. (who, btw, punk bassist playing fingerstyle. Almost positive. Love that when I see it, because of all those people who tell you whether to play with or without a pick depends on your genre and that you “need” a pick to play punk. I call bullshit, guys.)

Anyway, it was a great set. There is so much nostalgia built into Social D for me. They’re one of those bands I always have a soft spot for, but never quite followed religiously, so a large part of what I love about them is so nostalgic. I still love them, it’s not like I’ve not followed them out of some intent, but rather that there is SO MUCH music out there, and I can’t buy ALL  of it, and also feed myself and pay my rent. lol. So, it’s really just been mostly out-of-sight, out-of-mind, for the most part. Still, I remember getting my first Social D album in high school? College? and playing it to death. A quick google tells me it must have been college, because it was the ‘Live at the Roxy’ album, which was released immediately after my high school graduation, and I’m sure it was either a birthday or Christmas gift.

I remember asking for a Social Distortion album, and at the time, had been disappointed they got me a live one.  When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate live albums. I thought all the talking got in the way of my music! I find these days I have very different opinions, and while I don’t necessarily go out of my way to buy a live recording, I actually like the talking, the stories, the way they set up the atmosphere. And, I do revisit that Live at the Roxy album pretty often.

I was really into Social D at a time when there were some interesting things happening in music. From the late 80s up through the early 00s, music had this atmosphere of ‘something being born’. It was creative, and you had a lot of different stuff happening because Alternative was becoming a thing (a term I hate, by the way, because it is now used as a blanket term for ‘we don’t want to call this punk, or metal, or hard rock, or pop-punk or..etc, so we’ll call it alternative. Then people will buy it, because we’re not calling it what it actually is, because nobody likes those things anymore.) But, in the era that Alternative came to the forefront of music, it was it’s own specific thing. It was a word that literally was used because “we have no idea what to categorize this as, and “Alternative” sounds cooler than “Other”.

What I’m getting at, though, is that I grew up in an age where musical experimentation was the thing to do, when things that were different, things that were unique or unusual, from Alternative to grunge to the swing revival, were all valid musical paths that could and did have a place on mainstream radio.  It was a really cool time to be a kid, during this really progressive movement in rock music that didn’t look down on the old stuff, but was experimenting within itself, so there was room for the first wave of punk, there was room for pop-punk. There was room for all sorts of things.

Since then, those things have started breaking off. I’m this, not that. Like this, not that. But the era when I discovered Social Distortion was a sort of age of creativity and variety in music, so there’s so much nostalgia built around these bands that I discovered when I was in my late teens, early 20s and you could hear just about anything on pop radio.

That makes me sound old, I know! But, I don’t know how else to describe that ‘anything can happen’ feeling that bands like Social Distortion reawaken in me. That just isn’t our current music world. With the internet at the forefront of industry, the larger labels are so often trying to hold ground by saying ‘this is what we do. this one kind of music. This sells.’  Since the industry has no idea where it stands, and is just trying to maintain some foothold on a changing market, they’ve become terrified of change and that has given us this really homogenized entity we call ‘pop music’.  Today, everything interesting happening in music is the work of independent artists doing it for love of the craft. And that’s cool and interesting, that we have this world where independent artists who can’t get signed still have the ability and opportunity to put themselves out there and maybe even support themselves through their art. It’s just very much not the world I grew up in, where ‘this is different’ wasn’t synonymous for ‘they’ll never play it on the radio.’

Which, was actually a huge digression on my part. Oops! It was a great show, anyway.

The closing act, which we did not stay to watch, was Morningside Lane, who I will look at more later. I wasn’t really all that impressed live, to be honest, but I never judge a band I’ve only seen about 1.5 minutes of until I investigate further.

After a concert, I always want to go home and play with my bass. They are so very much an instrument that you really can’t appreciate in the same way until you feel it in your chest, so last night, at 12:30, when I got home it was a bit of bass time for me. I should have gone to bed. I was tired.  But, I also wanted to fiddle around even though my brain was in the off position, so Rocksmith it was. I pulled up the Guitarcade and worked with the string skipping saloon a bit. I should work with this more, but this is one of the flaws of Rocksmith when it comes to practicing basics. The string skipping minigame freezes. I don’t mind when I bomb something because of me, but when I fail because my little shooter thing has stopped shooting for 2.5 seconds, that irks me. Still, I do try to deal with it to work with it regularly, since it’s a really good practice in accuracy and speed.

Then I spent some time in Scale Warriors, which on the bass front is now moving on from just the pentatonic scale. The last time I practiced it started introducing the Aeolian scale, which seems kind of cool, and last night (or maybe I should say this morning, as it was like 2 am) it tossed in the Ionian scale.  So, I drilled through that, ran through a few tunes on Learn a Song, and then basically collapsed for the night.  I’m hoping to get lots of music practice in today,  but I think for the moment I’m going to veg in front of the TV for a few. I find I’m still feeling kind of haggard. Love going to concerts, but the recovery is hell, especially when you have them lined up every weekend.

Next Saturday I’m off to the NJ Ukulele Festival, so I feel like it’s going to be winter before I’ve really regenerated.

Until Next Time, content, but tired.

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