Social Distortion & Bad Religion

Punks both young and old joined together Friday night at Stage AE in Pittsburgh for a sold-out performance of the co-headlining tour featuring punk legends Bad Religion and Social...
Social Distortion : Live
Social Distortion : Live

Punks both young and old joined together Friday night, May 10th, at Stage AE in Pittsburgh for a sold-out performance of the co-headlining tour featuring punk legends Bad Religion and Social Distortion. Fans lined around the block starting in early afternoon in hopes of getting the coveted spot at the front of the pit. The crowd was an eclectic mix, older generation punks navigating the outdoor venue in wheelchairs; Gen-Xers decked out in vintage band tees; and many families with kids…passing the torch on to the new generation. This is a historic tour for both bands as this is the first time the two are touring together in the U.S. Sharing the stage was opening band Lovecrimes, led by Julian Ness.

Lovecrimes

Opening for the evening was California based Lovecrimes. Lead singer (and guitarist) Julian Ness is no stranger to the punk rock life, as he is the son of Social Distortion’s Mike Ness. Mixing punk rock, rockabilly, and blues; Lovecrimes powered through a nine song, 45-minute long setlist. Julian’s powerful crooning voice sounds remarkably like his father’s, yet unique enough to forge his own path on stage. Keeping up with his rockabilly roots, he grooved around the stage in a way that only Elvis could pull off. Drummer Josh Roossin’s heavy beats complimented Trevor Lucca’s smooth guitar work.

Setlist:

  1. Sabotage
  2. Halfway Heart
  3. Stay With Me
  4. All Alone
  5. Lost in a Minute
  6. I’m Your Ghost
  7. Hold Me Back Again
  8. Harbor Blvd
  9. Lovesick
Bad Religion
Greg Graffin

Bad Religion took to the stage like a triumphant army returning from battle. Lead singer Greg Graffin, with arms extended, seemed to embrace the entire audience from on stage upon their entrance. Their uncanny ability to mix harmonics with hardcore punk rhythms lends credence to one of their surprising influences, The Beatles. Blasting through an impressive 22-song setlist, they took the audience on an incredible journey of hits spanning their 40-plus year discography. With each song, the mosh pit became larger and more intense, as more fans joined in on the action. Matching the energy of the fans, bassist Jay Bentley bounced around stage with his well-loved, weathered Fender Precision Bass. Fans surfed the crowd as if it were high tide at Newport Beach, with Graffin watching over many of them as they made their journey to the barricade. Between songs, Graffin interacted with the crowd, informing them that Bad Religion has made tour stops to Pittsburgh over 25 times in the past 40 years; with no intention of stopping any time soon. They ended their set with a short instrumental cover of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”.

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Setlist:

  1. The Defense
  2. Los Angeles Is Burning
  3. Only Rain
  4. Stranger Than Fiction
  5. Fuck You
  6. Wrong Way Kids
  7. Struck A Nerve
  8. Anesthesia
  9. My Sanity
  10. I Want to Conquer the World
  11. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
  12. New Dark Ages
  13. Before You Die
  14. Do What You Want
  15. Dearly Beloved
  16. Infected
  17. No Control
  18. We’re Only Gonna Die
  19. Generator
  20. Sorrow
  21. You
  22. American Jesus
Bad Religion
Social Distortion
Mike Ness

Social Distortion took a more subdued approach to the final set of the evening, proving to the audience that punk’s not dead, it just needs to relax sometimes. Lead singer (and guitarist) Mike Ness, still recovering from tonsil cancer (and its subsequent treatment), sounded stronger than ever, if not slightly grittier. Their purple and green stage lighting seemed to be a premonition of things to come, as the Northern Lights made a rare appearance in Pittsburgh directly following the show, lighting the city skyline in hues of green and magenta. Between songs, Ness enjoyed engaging with the crowd; sometimes reminiscing on days long gone. Before breaking into “Mommy’s Little Monster”, Ness told the crowd that he wanted to apologize to Pittsburgh, because when Mommy’s Little Monster was released in 1983, they were unable to tour “’cause I had problems at home, with the drugs, with the police”. Since then, they have been back to Pittsburgh multiple times, with the same raw energy they had 40-plus years ago. “Reach For the Sky” seemed to take on another meaning to Ness following his illness, as his heartfelt rendition of the song seemed to take on an extra level of importance to him. Their setlist was a mix of songs from throughout their 40-plus year discography, but the special treat of the night was when they performed “Story of My Life”, which hadn’t been performed on this tour. The crowd went wild when those first few chords rang out, singing along to every word. The band chose to close out the evening with a punk rendition of Merle Kilgore/Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” that only Social D could pull off.

Setlist:

  1. Bad Luck
  2. Through These Eyes
  3. I Wasn’t Born to Follow
  4. Tonight
  5. Cold Feelings
  6. Mommy’s Little Monster
  7. The Creeps
  8. Hour of Darkness
  9. 1945
  10. Over You
  11. Reach for the Sky
  12. Ball and Chain
  13. Story of My Life
  14. Born To Kill
  15. Ring of Fire
Social Distortion

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