If the sweltering heat that has crept upon Sonoma county is any indication, the summer season is finally here! And thus, the SOMO Summer Concert Series has started up at the SOMO Village in Rohnert Park with punk titans Social Distortion leading the charge. People of all walks of life gathered together last Saturday to enjoy the good food and music and, despite the rising temperature throughout the weekend, no one left disappointed.
Aaron Lee Tasjan kicked the evening off with an energetic set filled with magnetic power pop riffs and dazzling guitar solos. Typically known for his authentic take on modern day folk rock, Tasjan and co. forwent his typically dusty, acoustic soaked sets for something more straightforward and loud and the result was both mesmerizing and entertaining. Songs that are usually softer affairs were given new life onstage stage as Tasjan and his backing band effortlessly shepherded their selections into psychedelic guitar freakouts that brought to mind the arena rock bands of the 90’s who took their 60’s inspirations and added massive crunch to their bite (think Blind Melon at their most raucous). Though a brief set, Tasjan was able to draw the wandering crowd in and get the air buzzed with excitement for the acts to come.
Following them was Philadelphia garage rockers Low Cut Connie, lead by the charismatic piano playing frontman Adam Weiner. Although their take on greasy, 60’s styled rock ‘n’ roll is fairly simplistic and straightforward, their performance was anything but. From the second the motley crew took to the stage you could feel the energy dripping from each member as they wasted no time launching right into their high octane presentation, with Weiner nearly doing all but outright demanding that every person in attendance be on their feet and joining in on their celebratory anthems. The display was endearing and had everyone dancing along as they all jumped, clapped and sweated through their entire set. Perhaps the most charming aspect of Low Cut Connie’s production was the constant feeling of inclusion. The band wasn’t simply content with being the life of the party, they wanted everyone in on the fun. The icing on the cake was when the band ended with a cover of Prince’s Controversy that was filled with pure joy and fire. Weiner eventually leapt from his piano into the crowd where he hugged everyone he could, eventually being swallowed whole by the newfound fans they had won over, their mark undoubtedly burned into every witness there.
Finally the time had come for Social Distortion to take the stage. From the opening notes of Reach For the Sky the crowd was instantly hooked as the band launched into a career-spanning set that pleased both old and new fans alike. Mike Ness’ voice might have sounded a little more strained compared to the smooth rasp of his younger days, but he was undeniably just as fiery as ever as he growled his way through many fan favorite’s like Prison Bound, Don’t Drag Me Down and Another State of Mind. After 30 years of endless touring and album releases, the kings of SoCal punk have the kind of far reaching draw that only a select few acts ever achieve in their careers. Throughout the evening their influence was unmistakable: people of all ages donned their famous party skeleton logo shirts with pride. It’s fairly common at these events that you typically find younger kids being dragged by their parents to see dinosaur acts that the younger generation couldn’t care less about. However, this evening was different as kids stood right alongside their parents and belted out each word as Mike Ness and the gang roared through hit after hit. Ness spoke appreciatively to the crowd and asked how many younger fans were there and after hearing the loud cheers he couldn’t help himself from saying, with a smirk, “I like the young fans…” before launching into Mommy’s Little Monster. The kids, it seems, are alright.