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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

REVIEW: Social Distortion and Bad Religion reignite punk rock on tour

The Channels Art Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW
Izadora Hamm
A rowdy audience roars with admiration following an impressive performance by iconic punk rock band, Social Distortion, on April 10 at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

In the late ‘70s, punk rock bands were absolutely thriving, displaying their raw talent and strident sounds. This new genre emerged and took all rock enjoyers by storm, but amidst the never-ending stream of musical talent, two bands emerged as icons of the era: Social Distortion and Bad Religion

With their rebellious lyrics, raucous vocals, and thought-provoking anthems, these two bands changed the face of punk rock while simultaneously influencing wider cultural movements. And now, over 40 years since the first time they played together, they come together for a co-headline tour promising to be nothing short of legendary. 

Gates opened at 6 p.m. on April 10 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and their second concert on the tour was completely sold out. A buzzing audience hastily made their way up to the heart of the bowl, most repping worn-in merchandise from both bands. 

Navigating through a crowd this large was no easy task. Long lines dominated the surrounding area, offering various food, beverages, and merchandise. A unique audience populated this scene, all agreeably discussing a shared fondness for the nostalgia-provoking bands. 

Luminous blue and purple lights welcomed Bad Religion onto the stage. Vibrance emitted through the crowd, a radiant sunset in the backdrop setting the tone for an admittedly unforgettable night. 

Legendary punk rock band Bad Religion entices the audience with their authentic charm on April 10 at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Attracting people of all ages to enjoy their music. (Izadora Hamm)

A personal favorite, “Leave Mine to Me,” provoked the beginning of a rowdy mosh. A concert of this caliber offers a unique experience where pushing and shoving are not only acceptable but encouraged. 

As I glanced around, leather jackets plastered with various punk rock patches seemed to be the dress code for the night. The individuals wearing the proper attire impressively sang every lyric of every song, all the while violently bounding through the frenzy they’d created. 

Lead singer Greg Graffin encouraged the ecstatic crowd as the sky darkened and stage lights illuminated his band. Being the only constant member of the band over four decades has earned him fame, and his undeniable talent still touches fans to this day. 

Co-founded by former lead guitarist Brett Gurewitz in 1979, Bad Religion’s discography has inspired generations of musicians with its intellectual lyricism and made it a reputable trailblazer of the genre. 

Debatably, their most popular song, “American Jesus,” completely disheveled the crowd. The aggressive mosh reached the outlines of the pit, and enjoyers of all ages participated in the contagious scene. 

The only pause in the chaos was the sporadic falling of a crowd member, followed by unanimous help to lift the eager fan back up. This is a certain concert etiquette I’ve not usually found in punk shows.

Almost as quickly as they started, Bad Religion ended their set with a deafening guitar solo and final remarks of gratitude to their fans. The crowd quickly flooded out of the pit, seemingly on the hunt for somewhere to rest before the next predictably intense performance. 

At promptly 8:30 p.m., Social Distortion took the stage. A quietness stilled the audience, anticipation hushing their fans. Lead singer and guitarist Mike Ness spearheaded the band in 1978 and, through the decades, has achieved the creation of hard-hitting punk without compromise. 

Social Distortion serenades the crowd with long guitar solos and raucous vocals on April 10 at the Santa Barbara Bowl. (Izadora Hamm)

The aggressive energy quickly reignited as signature songs, “Through These Eyes,” “Story of My Life,” and “Reach For The Sky,” encapsulated a true punk concert. You wouldn’t be able to tell the crowd had been keeping the same pace for nearly two hours, considering the vitality was only escalating. 

Intense shoving was required to break into the seemingly impenetrable flow of the mosh, the band increasing their intensity with every song.

It seemed the band was just as fervent and rebellious as they were when they entered the punk scene in the late ‘70s. With their anti-systematic lyricism and signature sound, I now completely understand how they’ve changed punk culture for the better. 

A quieter piece, “Ball and Chain,” united the audience at an agreed standstill. According to Ness, this piece is a hard-luck story, almost a plea or forceful cry to be unburdened. It’s a certain lyricism that relates closely with the band, which has suffered at the hands of addiction and numerous untimely personnel shifts over the years. 

Social Distortion ended the night with an aggressive outro and heartfelt appreciation from the band members.

Weaving through an exhausted crowd, remarks of awe floated through the air. Accompanied by the occasional complaining of blood and soreness. 

Both bands have earned their reputation as bonafide punk legends. They contributed more than just music; they were part of a scene that genuinely changed culture. Being a fan myself, the opportunity to witness the collaboration of such influential bands was an unforgettable experience. 

Their presence in the punk world is still as prevalent as it was four decades ago; Bad Religion and Social Distortion will continue their nationwide co-headlining tour until the end of May.

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