Social Distortion Took Over House of Blues Las Vegas for Three Nights with Friday Night Support from Urethane

LAS VEGAS, NV – Orange County punk rock pioneers, Social Distortion, played three shows at the House of Blues in Las Vegas this past weekend with the first two nights being sold out quick enough during the promotion of the event that the third night was added.

Each night had a different singular support act for the shows which is pretty unique these days as usually rock shows usually have 2-3 bands in support of the headliner.

Thursday night was night one and showcased Julian James as the opener for Social Distortion’s. James is the son of Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness, but uses his first and middle name so as to not try to carry the name along with him.

The third show was on Saturday night and featured Chris Schiflett performing his solo work as he has been famously the guitarist for Foo Fighters for the past two decades, and before that he was in California punk bands No Use For A Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

The show I went to was the Friday show as I am a big fan of the opening band, Urethane, and they did not disappoint.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Urethane, this band just formed in 2021 and released their first LP Chasing Horizons later in the year. 

The band consists of members of other California punk bands including lead singer and guitarist Tim Fennelly (formerly of War Fever), skateboarding legend and punk rock pioneer Steve Caballero (formerly of The Faction) on lead guitar, bassist Chad Ruiz (Skipjack), and former The Bombpops drummer Dylan Wade.

These guys create songs that are catchy but not overly repetitive, and they have a punk sound that will bring you right back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s reminiscent of bands like Face to Face and Unwritten Law.

They ran through a handful of the songs from their album, but they also knocked out a new song in the middle of their set called “Dog Ears” which was quite good. Caballero asked the audience to let them know if the song was on the right track. After the song was over he added, “It seemed like you guys liked it,” with a big smile on his face.

The band threw in a couple of covers during their 45-minute set as well. The first one was setup by Fennelly asking the crowd if they liked The Ramones to which the crowd yelled, “Yeah.” Only to have Fennelly say, “Well, we’re not playing The Ramones. Here’s The Misfits,” right as the whole band jumped into the song “Where Eagles Dare.” The title of that song may not sound familiar, but even if you aren’t a huge fan of The Misfits, it’s the song that has a hook with, “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch,” in it.

The band also had a special Vegas surprise up their sleeve as they did the last time they played in Vegas where former Caballero bandmate Adam “Bomb” Segal from The Faction (and now with Suburban Resistance) came on stage to play bass on the Dramarama song “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You).”

The band finished with a new song called “Remember Me” which when I spoke to Fennelly after the show he said it is a public domain song that they rehashed to make it their own, and it has a definitely Flogging Molly / Dropkick Murphy’s vibe to it that is different from their other music, but still really cool.

Social Distortion came on afterwards, and while many punk fans may not necessarily be direct fans of Social D, they will likely know at least 4 or 5 of their songs as they have had heavy radio play since about 1990 when they released their seminal self-titled punk album Social Distortion which featured the songs “Ball and Chain,” “Story of My Life,” and a cover of Johnny Cash’s hit song “Ring of Fire.”

That album and those three songs alone are some of the most well-known punk songs that are still played on the radio today.

The really hardcore Social D fans would love the show as singer/guitarist Mike Ness took some time to not only talk about the history of some of the songs, but he also dulled out inspiring messages of anti-hate and anti-bigotry to the loud cheers of the audience.

The songs in the main portion of the set did tend to drag along a bit, and overall Social Distortion’s songs are a bit honky-tonk infused anyway. So, the resulting performance is sort of a low energy show that could as easily be played in a showroom as a rock hall.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t good or anything. It is just not what someone would potentially expect from a band typically labeled as a punk band even if they are a band that has been around for 44 years.

It wasn’t until the band left and came back for their encore that the songs and the energy of the crowd (and band) seemed to really pick things up.

It was a bit odd that the band didn’t play probably their biggest hit single “Story of My Life” during the entire set, but they did throw “Ball and Chain” into the encore before ending with “Ring of Fire.”

The crowd for a Social Distortion show tends to skew a bit older and more towards men, but I was happy to see a good mix of young people and fans of all ethnicities and genders attending, because it gave me hope that the spirit of punk and rock music still has its place in every pocket of our society.

It should be noted that the band played a couple of new songs that Ness mentioned were going to be on an upcoming album, but there was no confirmation as to when that album was expected to be released.

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