Like any 31-year-old punk crew that has spent a good chunk of its life in the gutter — rocking recklessly, shooting heroin, looking for love, and breaking the law — Social Distortion has a pretty messed-up face. Obviously, we don't mean that literally; Social D's middle-aged frontman, Mike Ness, is surprisingly well preserved, despite a receding hairline and some deep creases across the forehead. Rather, we're talking about the fact that the band looks almost nothing like the newborn it was back in 1979.
Originally, there were four members: Ness, guitarists Rikk and Frank Agnew, and drummer Casey Royer. But that lasted only about a year. When the frontman suddenly brought in Dennis Danell to play bass (even though he couldn't actually play), his three cofounders — both Agnew brothers and Royer — quit to start the Adolescents.
With Lucero and Frank Turner. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 13, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami; ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $28 plus fees.
That mass exodus marked the first major rearrangement of the band's facial features. But an almost endless series of makeovers would take place through the '80s, '90s, and '00s, seeing a little less than 20 people fill space with Social D. And in all of that time, the only other constant aside from Ness was Danell, and he would die at 38 from a brain aneurysm in the winter of 2000.
So today, Ness remains the lone recognizable part of Social Distortion's craggy punk mug. But sometimes when you drop into the pit, close your eyes, and throw some elbows, the noise still sounds the same.