American punk rock was alive and well in Charlotte this past Saturday night as California punk rockers Social Distortion made a stop at the Fillmore on their summer tour. A sea of Social Distortion shirts could be seen throughout the venue as the near capacity crowd began filtering in. Social D brought out quite a varied fan base ranging from the under the age of 10 (accompanied by their parents) to the over 60 and everywhere in between.

Excitement was at a fever pitch as the lights dimmed and the crowd hooted and hollered and awaited what we be an incredible night of punk rock and roll. A taped intro of “I Put a Spell on You” began to play as the band took the stage kicking off the evening with “Still Alive.” Frontman Mike Ness took his place behind the center mic outfitted with his signature cap and guitar emblazoned with Orange County and a rose stuck atop the neck. Ness’s vocals sounded on point as he led the band through a variety of songs covering material from seven albums. Drummer David Hidalgo Jr. provided a solid force behind the kit surrounded by an assortment of knickknacks including no parking signs and a light up mannequin torso. Bassist
Brent Harding and guitarist Jonny Wickersham provided the driving rhythms  accompanied by Dave Kalish on keyboards. You could tell that the band members had been together a long time as they were completely in synch with one another and
gelled like a fine tuned machine. Ness kept the chatter to a minimum taking only a moment here or there to introduce a song or comment to the audience. Things really got going with the fan favorite “Ball and Chain” followed by and intense
instrumental jam that was a highlight of the night. Included in the set was “Hope Dies Hard” a Johnny “2 Bags” Wickersham song with an amped up version of “Machine Gun Blues” closing things out.

It wasn’t long before the chants of “Social D! Social D!” filled the venue and Social Distortion did not disappoint returning for a four song encore including one of their biggest tunes “Story of My Life.” But there was one tune left that the fans had been anticipating all night long. The crowd erupted and the pits got moving as Social D led the audience through a rousing cover of the Merle Kilgore and June Carter Cash song made famous by Johnny Cash , “Ring of Fire,” providing a perfect ending to a perfect punk filled night. Don’t miss out on one of the coolest shows of the summer. Check out Social D when they hit up a town near you.

Set List:

I Put A Spell On You (Taped Intro)

Still Alive

99 To Life

Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown

California (Hustle and Flow)

King of Fools

Dear Lover

Ball and Chain

Blues Jam

Another State of Mind

Hope Dies Hard (Jonny “2 Bags” Wickersham cover)

When She Begins


Machine Gun Blues




Angel’s Wings

Don’t Drag Me Down

Story of My Life

Ring of Fire (Merle Kilgore and June Carter Cash cover)



Photo Gallery

We would like to thank Michele Stephens from Epitaph for the credentials to review the show.

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978.
My top five live shows ever are:

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome.

2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours.
3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 – The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked!
4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live.
5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.