On Friday night at the Murat Egyptian Room, two bands managed to churn out nearly three hours of music and roughly shake awake a mismatched crowd of all ages, from 5 to 50s and everything in between. Security was incredibly tense, confiscating belts and bracelets because they could be dangerous, and not even letting us hand out flyers for upcoming shows — they would confiscate them by the handful and tear them up. By the time the show began, though, that was the last thing on everybody’s mind.
The third band on some flyers, The Explosion, took the night off so it was up to Tiger Army to start the show. They played songs from their new album, Tiger Army III: Ghost Tigers Rise, but also threw in “Power of Moonlite” and “Incorporeal” from their second album. The crowd could only be described as apologetic, though, as I could — and did — stand in the very middle of the pit for most of the set and was rarely even touched. It was apparently good enough for Tiger Army, though, saying that we were more fun than the Detroit crowd the night before.
They finished and the stereo came on with old classic punk, like the Ramones and Dictators, to get everybody excited for the 25-year favorites coming on next: Social Distortion, with a new bassist, Matt Freeman from Rancid. They played for over an hour and a half, starting the show with a cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash and soon playing another cover, “Under my Thumb” by the Rolling Stones. The crowd went wild when they started to play the old favorites like “Telling Them,” “Mommy’s Little Monster” and “Prison Bound,” and security definitely had to work hard, pulling down the constant crowd surfers and sending them back to the audience. They also played songs from their new album, Sex, Love, and Rock ’n’ Roll — their first album in eight years — like “Don’t Take Me for Granted,” a song that Mike Ness dedicated to Dennis Danell, the former guitarist who died in 2000.
Near the end of the set, Ness asked who was the youngest person at the show, then helped a 5-year-old up onto the stage and asked what his favorite band was. “Social D” was the answer, and after the audience stopped cheering, Ness asked what he does for a living and he didn’t even hesitate before answering, “Play.”
And from the smile on Ness’ face, you knew he knows the feeling.