Some years ago I spent a good deal of time going beck and forth to LA. Eventually I got myself an apartment, but at first I was staying in sublets in Hollywood and trying to get myself oriented in a city where I knew three people. I called this period of my life “1982” because the three I knew locally were all a part of my life during that year. I had noticed this remarkable poster on one of my many cruises down Sunset Blvd.
Steel Panther has a standing gig at the House of Blues which is right in the thick of the area where the LA Hair Metal bands emerged from that era (Motley Crue, Guns & Roses, Ratt, Quiet Riot). I couldn’t believe it – it was like time had forgotten the band. I made a mental note to check them out but never did. (Nor did I ever drop by the Rainbow Room to meet Lemmy from Motorhead, which is a lament for a different time)
Flash forward to the present day, and much to my amusement I have been recording a steady catalog of metal music concerts from bands the likes of which I would have eaten crushed glass before listening to in my teens. Def Leppard. Kiss. Motley Crue. Guns & Roses. And Long informed me that Steel Panther was coming to Toronto. The loop needed to be closed.
The show was at the old Sound Academy in the Docks area, re-dubbed “Rebel” and a venue that I have never been to, and after an excellent dinner at Cherry Street BBQ we headed down. There was an opening band who appeared to be local and a bit of a spoof (They had a :20 number called “Boner on the Bus”) then a Detroit band called Wilson took to the stage as an opener. They were absolutely NOT a spoof – loud as hell with an energetic kinetic lead singer.
At this point I started rummaging around in my bag and much to my relief unearthed the packet of earplugs I have taken to carrying everywhere. I can no longer handle the “three days of deaf” after a concert anymore.
Wilson were pretty good, hard core and engaged but time was ticking on and it was a Tuesday night. Steel Panther finally took to the stage and proceeded to Rock.
Their lineup consists of, drummer “Stix Zadinia”, guitarist “Satchel”, vocalist “Michael Starr” and bassist “Lexxi Foxx”
They opened with a blistering version of a song called “Eyes of A Panther” and it was clear that this band was absolutely in on their own joke. They were hilarious – crude, rude, playing up all of the stereotypes of band from this era. All the while loud as hell and really tight.
I looked them up after the show. They are billed as a comedy act and started playing covers of the metal songs from the era and from February 1999 to 2014 they had a weekly Monday night show on the Sunset Strip, making them the Longest Running Hollywood Weekly Monday night show on the Sunset Strip in history. They really can play – some of them spent time in a Van Halen cover band – and they started to get some fame of their own accord and were signed to Universal Records in 2008. Their songs are hooky and entertaining (“Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World” was particularly fun), the band seems to be truly enjoying themselves and the audience was more than receptive.
The place was sold out and it was an interesting crowd. Not young by any stretch – I suspect Long and I were around the median age – and some were sporting wigs and costumes. Then there were the solid Metal fans, some of whom I suspect were perfectly willing to take the band at face value and who seemed to think that they were a straight up rock group. There was one guy who easily would have won an award in a Nerd-Off who was rocking out to the point that I thought he might hurt himself. These guys were heroes to him and he was in heaven. Good for him.
The crowd was frankly the most interesting thing. Half seemed to get the joke, the other half seemed to prefer to think there wasn’t one. I remember reading that after the initial screening of Spinal Tap people were asking Rob Reiner why he didn’t do a documentary on a “good” band. Its a fine line between clever and stupid.
We did not stay for long, and left just shy of the end of the first set. It was late and loud and while I appreciated the fun I had an early day. I would absolutely go see them again, and perhaps the next time I am in LA I will see if I can catch them in their natural habitat.