Social Distortion

support Grade 2 + Lovebreakers
author PP date 14/06/22 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

I don't recall this busy a summer in terms of concerts as 2022 has been. It seems like every band and their cousin is on tour right now, and on top of that, you have rescheduled Covid-19 tours like this one by Social Distortion. Luckily, concert fatigue has never been a problem for this magazine, so we find ourselves once again at a relatively full Store Vega for a night of classic punk rock'n'roll melodies by one of the foundational bands in the genre. Note, there are no photos for tonight's concert due to Social Distortion requiring a contract severely restricting the rights of our photographers, so you'll have to do without. What's the point of a photo contract anyway when everyone has a smartphone these days? Anyway, onto the supporting artists we go.


First up is Lovebreakers, a British band playing melodic, pop-flavored punk without reaching into the sugarcoated territory of pop punk bands. Instead, their sound recalls Bruce Springsteen-influenced, laid-back, and clean punk bands like Fake Problems or maybe American Steel, with an occasional nod towards Elway in the mix. It's upbeat, tight, and enjoyable throughout, especially when they air a punked-up version of Tom Petty's "You Wreck Me" that ends up sounding like an Eve 6 song from circa self-titled era. Here, a driving melody and a wide-open brawl coupled with solid energy end up drawing the loudest applause from the audience so far.

There are a couple of great sections like this one during their set, but otherwise, their brand of melodic, laid-back punk rock is fairly straightforward. Much like Elway, it's not exactly bad but it also isn't that memorable at least on the first listen. It's decent, but they need to find more consistency before they'll sound truly convincing. For now, the melodies are good enough to entertain for a short 30 minutes but without the flair to raise their grade any higher.


Grade 2

Next up is Grade 2, who hails from the Isle Of Wight, which is a little island that we don't need to know exists, according to the band. Their banner represents a town they originate from with a church tower that depicts their old basement practice locale that was moldy and shitty, but they didn't have anything better at the time. It's an anecdote that's brought up during the show, which fits right in their classic, old-school punk rock attitude and vibe. Think Oi! and the British punk origins, throw in hardcore undertones, and you've got Grade 2. It's a high-energy, noisy, and unapologetic set that's driven by attitude and in-your-face vibes.

"This music is all we know", they say with a British type of arrogance (a connotation when it comes to this genre), and somewhere along the line, you start believing them. It could be the non-stop manner they perform their songs, which are cleanly sung yet somehow feel ferocious and full of vitriol at the same time. It could also be their catchy, upbeat melodies they mix in for good measure to add some variety.

It's an expression that recalls the likes of Idles live, except without the post-punk pretentiousness. Here, it's a raw display of how punk rock concerts probably looked back in the 70s and 80s in England, or at least it is a convincing suggestion towards such imagery. With as much energy as Grade 2 is putting into their shows, you'll just have to learn their songs and they'll be awesome. On first listen, it's rather noisy and you're more about the energy, but they'll certainly have drawn in a boatload of new fans based on tonight's showing.

Social Distortion

The all-instrumental "Road Zombie" kicks off tonight's Social Distortion concert with the band each taking turns taking steps closer to the edge of the stage to show off their guitar skills - a feat that repeats throughout the night whenever an opportune moment arises during the songs. It is "Bad Luck", however, that gets the crowd singing along right away even as the band is struggling with sound issues on stage. In the middle of the crowd, it sounds great - save for perhaps vocalist Mike Ness' vocals being a little on the low side, but the frustration on stage is all too visible and ends up with him tossing his earpieces/monitors out and just playing without for the rest of their set.

His charming, 50s-style Midwestern American voice has always been the main draw of Social Distortion, so the good news is that even with the slightly lowered volume on his monitors, his brawl is still perfectly audible throughout the set. Highlights like "She's A Knockout" and "Sick Boys" sound great until Ness goes off the conspiratorial track all of a sudden talking about Covid-19 as "the crime of the century... where did it go? It's gone... the crime of the century, I tell you". I get it, the tour has been doubly rescheduled, and perhaps the late-stage pandemic handling after the vaccines were available and the disease better known was questionable, but it's not very punk rock to go all Trump on us, eh?

That said, he's otherwise casually charming during the few moments he talks to us (most of the set they just play their songs, that's it). For instance, we're told that there's a new Social Distortion album coming out, which they'll start recording on October 1st. "Tonight" is aired from that record, and fortunately it sounds like Social Distortion so no major shockers are incoming by the sounds of it. Earlier, he told us he was watching Judge Judy in a hotel room in Sweden the other day, which inspired him to re-introduce "Prison Bound" into the setlist.

Following the new song, there's a bit of a lull until "Don't Drag Me Down" wakes up the crowd for a brief moment before the encore. A few more tracks to go, before both "Story Of My Life" and "Ring Of Fire" draw a huge sing-along from the crowd, suggesting some parts of the audience still haven't learned any other Social Distortion songs aside from their two biggest 'hits'.

At the end of the day, tonight's Social D set was pretty good but felt much like another day in the office-type of a set. They're not super energetic on stage, and the number of rollators in the crowd coupled with its high average age doesn't suggest this is about to change anytime soon. That said, they have written several punk rock classics that will even to date remain enjoyable in a live setting. Don't expect them to ever score much higher than this though, as we're very much in the career band phase at this point.


  • 1. Road Zombie
  • 2. Bad Luck
  • 3. Bye Bye Baby
  • 4. So Far Away
  • 5. I Wasn't Born to Follow
  • 6. She's a Knockout
  • 7. Sick Boys
  • 8. Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)
  • 9. Machine Gun Blues
  • 10. Prison Bound
  • 11. Gotta Know the Rules
  • 12. California (Hustle and Flow)
  • 13. Tonight
  • 14. 99 to Life
  • 15. Don't Drag Me Down
  • --Encore--
  • 16. Born to Kill
  • 17. Dear Lover
  • 18. Story of My Life
  • 19. Ring of Fire (Merle Kilgore cover)

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