By Dave Burke DaveBurke.Photography
How to best describe L.A.’s Steel Panther? Over the top, ridiculous, raunchy, politically incorrect and depending on your sensibilities either highly offensive or sidesplittingly hilarious. The glam metal quartet is simultaneously a loving tribute to and a scathing parody of the 1980’s Sunset Strip “Hair Metal” scene. Every lyric is a tongue in cheek tale of groupies (of all shapes and sizes), drugs, STD’s and out of control parties, yet the musicianship and song writing are as sleek and taught as their name sake, aping the sonic trappings of the over the top 80’s to perfection.
While some, including prominent DJ and “That Metal Show” host Eddie Trunk, have dismissed the band as nothing more than a spoof, they’ve connected with rock fans both old and young in a way that few could have foreseen, in many cases overshadowing some of the bands to whom they pay tribute. They’ve also been embraced by many of their metal heroes, recently being featured on the fifth annual KISS Kruise and opening for “Metal Gods” Judas Priest.
From the time the band hit the stage with the straight ahead rocker “Eyes Of The Panther”, to the last cymbal crashes of “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)”, a Bon Jovi inspired coming of age tale, the near capacity crowd was on their feet, laughing and singing along. With their 14 song set. Michael Starr (Vocals), Satchel (Guitar), Lexxi Foxx (Bass) and Stix Zadinya (Drums) made every self proclaimed “Fanther” forget about their work a day problems for the near 2 hours they were on stage, with decidedly un-PC pop metal gems like “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)”, “Gloryhole”, “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World” and “Turn Out The Lights”.
In between the shredding guitar solos and catchy hooks the band is quick to turn their bitting wit on themselves, with much of the on stage levity coming at their own expense. Each of the four musicians take every opportunity to mercilessly mock the other’s talent, sexuality, weight, appearance, age and intelligence to the audience’s delight. When introduced as a “chubby David Lee Roth”, Starr taking it in stride, was quick to counter that he’s more like a “skinnier Vince Neil”. Foxx playing the vapid pretty boy is often caught at stage right preening, applying ever more lip gloss and hair spray, making sure his golden locks are just so in his hand held vanity mirror or taking center stage for his spotlight “hair solo”. Equal parts rock concert and comedy show, every over the top moment is filled with killer riffs, choreographed routines and one-liners that manage to feel spontaneous.
Turning their attentions from one another, there was plenty of audience interaction as well, usually in the form of the band imploring the many willing females to show a little more skin, or serenading a lucky young lady nightly at center stage with the raunchy acoustic ballad “Girl From Oklahoma”. In true excessive 80’s fashion, if one girl on stage is good then of course 17 is better and in what must be a break from the norm, Saturday in Madison there were not only 17 girls, but 17 girls and one dude dressed in a full body chicken suit hauled up on stage for the strutting “17 Girls In A Row”.
Steel Panther is just flat out big silly fun and unless you are offended by an almost constant stream of sexual humor I can’t imagine not having a good time with these guys. Join the party when they come through your town, you’ll be glad you did.