Steel Panther started out as an inside joke on LA’s music scene in the early 2000s, originally called Metal Shop, which then became Metal Skool – an 80s hair metal cover band that was as much satire as it was a tribute to the over the top Glam Metal scene of the mid to late 80s.
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The success of their weekly Monday night shows at LA’s Key Club eventually landed them spots on The Drew Carey Show, TV commercials, and as the house band for the Comedy Central Roast of Gene Simmons (KISS).
Known for their hilariously profane & decidedly non PC lyrics about partying & scoring groupies, Metal Skool became Steel Panther in 2008 and released their major label debut “Feel The Steel” the following year. The album garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Comedy Album” and debuted at the #1 spot on the Billboard Comedy Charts.
Members Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitar), Lexxi Foxx (bass) and Stix Zandinia (drums) aren’t only musicians of top caliber – Satchel being a former guitar Instructor at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology and having played with metal legends Rob Halford and Sebastian Bach, but also comedians of impeccable timing, as was evident from the grinning faces and at times out-loud laughter of the roughly 1000 fans in attendance.
Kicking off their 19-song set with the full throttle “Pussywhipped” from 2014’s All You Can Eat, Satchel & Foxx preened and posed on either side of the drum riser while Starr belted out the lyrics in his best “David Lee Roth voice.” As one would expect from any proper hair metal extravaganza, the stage was decked out in the prerequisite neon colors and fog with the band in spandex, animal prints, scarves, and of course the hair. Think Bon Jovi, Van Halen, or Poison in their mid 80s glory, but scaled down to a club-size presentation.
Up next was the infectious sing along of “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World,” also from All You Can Eat. With its opening salvo of “Have sex (yeah!) With every female of the species you see, The end is near (yeah!) So don’t you worry about the HIV,” the crowd punctuated every YEAH with glee. As if the absurdity of the lyrics wasn’t enough the ridiculously long “big finish,” which included blistering guitar work and Starr, Satchel, and Foxx each taking their turn at choreographed moves accented by Zandinia on the drums, lasted almost as long as the song itself.
The band pulled material from its three releases including “17 Girls In a Row,” “The Shocker,” and “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)”; and showed its “sensitive side” with the power ballad “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)” and an acoustic medley that included the absurd “Weenie Ride” and “Stripper Girl.” “Girl From Oklahoma” had about a dozen young ladies from the crowd joining the band on stage to close out the mini acoustic set.
The band’s in-between-songs raps and antics in and of themselves are as entertaining as the music. Whether it’s Foxx continuously applying fresh lip gloss via his hand-held or full-length mirror at stage right; he and Satchel high-fiving each other in mock surprise for completing one of their synchronized moves; or all four members ripping on each other’s talent, age or sexual orientation, there’s always something going on in a show that must be tightly scripted, yet seems totally spontaneous. In the tradition of Spinal Tap, Steel Panther’s music is as good as many of the artists they’re parodying and the humor goes from overt to subtle without missing a beat.
If you’re easily offended by off-color comedy, and songs about glory holes, asian hookers, fat girls, or bukkake tears aren’t your thing, then odds are you won’t see the charm in Steel Panther. If you love 80s pop metal and sophomoric humor you may have just found your new favorite band.
Feel the Steel at steelpantherrocks.com
Article and photos by Dave Burke for 10 Wire Up. ©2015 Dave Burke, all rights reserved.
“I’m obsessed with music – it’s a huge part of who I am. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents’ records. In addition to music, the best bands always had great imagery to go with it. It’s the combination of those that led me to concert photography. “My goal is to not only bring myself closer to the music I love but to share it and hopefully inspire others the way I’ve been inspired.” –Dave Burke, 2015