In 2018, we have reached a political and social climate where people tend to get easily offended by nearly anything and everything. Keyboard warriors rule the world with their comments and judgement about anything anyone does. As the same time, the music industry, especially for Rock and Metal bands, the tide is continuously changing as well. Long gone are the Heavy Metal high days of the ’80s where bands like Bon Jovi and Van Halen ruled the world. Like many, glam rockers Steel Panther yearn for a reclaim of the rise of Heavy Metal, and a time when political correctness was not on everyone’s mind when they just want to have a good laugh.
For the uninitiated, Steel Panther was formed in 2000 and currently consists of Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitar), Lexxi Foxx (bass), and Stix Zadinia (drums). Hailing from Los Angeles, the epicenter for Rock-n-Roll, in all its debauchery and glamour, Steel Panther has established themselves as the world’s premier party band – melding Hard Rock virtuosity with parody and criminally good looks. Always looking to have a good time, Steel Panther are bringing Rock lovers dreams to life with their Sunset Strip Live Tour in 2018.
Combining ’80s classics with their signature over-the-top, not -safe-for-work brand of Heavy Metal, the Sunset Strip Live Tour comes right on the heels of their Lower the Bar tour. Launching early March, with plans to wreak havoc across The States through early May, the band continue to support their 2017 album, Lower the Bar. Their fourth studio album, on Thursday, March 29th, Steel Panther brought their new tunes plus more to Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey.
Arriving in town all by themselves, the only support for the night was New Jersey’s own Deadly Nights. Working hard, making a name for themselves around the tri-state area, Deadly Nights are currently playing shows promoting their debut full-length album, 2016’s Descend into Madness.
Fairly describing themselves as Misfits meets Iron Maiden, these heavy-hitters did not waste any time getting things started. Dressed in sleeveless shirts, jackets and bandanas, they were ready to relive the heydays of Thrash Metal as much as Steel Panther does for Hair Metal. Finger-tapping solos were abundant on both guitar and bass, highlighting the musical ability of several band members.
Possessing an incredible chemistry, constantly leaning on each other, playing back to back, the band fed off of each other’s energy all night. In fact, while some singers might see a guitar solo as a chance to take a breathe, Deadly Nights Frontman Kaan got up in guitarists’ faces, mimicking the guitar movements and poses with his microphone. Like Steel Panther, Deadly Nights infused classic ’80s Thrash covers into their setlist, giving the crowd an inside look at some of their influences. Top tracks include “From Hell,” “Into the Further,” and the night’s closer “Forever,” a cut that features Judas Priest style gallops, Iron Maiden like dueling guitars, and a catchy chorus. Well-worth checking out, do not miss Deadly Nights as they start to make some noise on the scene.
After Deadly Nights, members of New Jersey’s WDHA 105.5 FM, The Rock of New Jersey, arrived on stage to introduce Steel Panther, throwing out some free t-shirts in the crowd. A classic way to amp up an audience, many were yelling, waiving their devil horns in the air, waiting Steel Panther’s arrival.
A very dedicated band, Steel Panther has been busy in recent years, releasing All You Can Eat in 2014, a live acoustic album called Live from Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage in 2016, and of course, Lower the Bar last year. All of this, plus a plethora of favorites from the earlier part of their career to offer, Steel Panther were armed and dangerous as the lights went down on Starland Ballroom just moments before their arrival on stage.
Making a theatrical entrance that would have made naughty boy Ric Flair proud, Steel Panther burst out, starting their set with fan favorites “Eyes of a Panther” and “Goin’ in the Backdoor.” From here, putting on an explosive, energy-filled tight performance, the guys had nearly the whole room shouting along to each forbidden lyric. Not to be overlooked, in typical Steel Panther form, they quickly broke away from music following the first couple of songs for the first of many banter-filled breaks.
One of the first topics of conversation, “why New Jersey is the greatest state,” highlighting one of the greatness parts of New Jersey – the Garden State Parkway. Eventually the banter shifted to “the greatest heavy metal singer, who isn’t here, David Lee Roth.” Keeping everyone entertained, it was the perfect segue to the first covers as part of the “Sunset Strip Live” classic ’80s medley as The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” Ratt’s “Round and Round” and Van Halen’s “Jump” ensued. It was here the cocky Starr backed up his claim that he could sing anything. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you could easily have felt like you were at a Van Halen show back in the early ’80s.
Following the homage to the ’80s, more banter ensued. This time the guys in Steel Panther poked fun at one another, with Satchel leading the wave of insults against Starr. Rebutting the put downs, he had the last jab saying, “Yeah, but I’m still the skinny Vince Neil.” Then Fox became a major punch line, as he is the thinnest person in the band, who also has the longest hair, and can be caught working on his make up in between songs. Not letting him off the hook, “You look like Farrah Fawcett after she died” proclaimed Starr. This banter also gave the audience a look at the first flashed breasts of the night, as one mature woman in the front row exposed herself, to which Starr responded to by reaching forward asking if he could have a touch. Soon after, the chest-baring female fan was brought on stage to hangout with the band. Lucky her!
Keeping the jokes coming, including Satchel confessing his family is from New Jersey and he has fond family memories of making crystal meth at his grandmother’s house, they jammed on into the classic “Just Like Tiger Woods.” Leaving the stage like a true rockstar, Starr excited as Satchel led the band into a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” A blistering verizon, it was not long before Starr returned with new look, hair pulled back, eyes wide open doing, you guessed it, an Ozzy impression.
Balancing the comedy with the Rock-n-Roll, midway through, Steel Panther took a break from their balls-to-the-wall brand of Metal to showcase their softer side with “Girl from Oklahoma City.” A track from their 2009 major label debut, Feel the Steel, Stix emerged from behind his kit to come up front and play some percussion. Another highlight included a cover of Bon Jovi’s hit “Livin’ on a Prayer.” An impeccable take on the New Jersey native’s classic song, the fact that dozens of women from the audience were brought on stage to celebrate made it that much more memorable. Gifting the crowd another glimpse of boobs, this time with Starr motorboating his face between the ladies chest, he danced with several other women during the Bon Jovi cover – big, small, younger, and older.
Also tearing through a cover of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Steel Panther closed the night out with their own classics, “Community Property” and “Death to All but Metal” before returning for an encore of “Party All Day (Fuck All Night)” as Starr jump into the audience to sing the finale. Appreciative of the turn out on a Thursday night, Satchel thanked the audience for coming out, giving appreciation to those who got a babysitter to come out. Encouraged fans to skip work the next day, Starr had to jump in and specify, “unless you’re a stripper, then go to work tomorrow!”
An all around good time, Steel Panther continue to be one of Rock’s most entertaining bands. Yes, they are crude, lude, and sometimes rude, but hey, not everything in life needs to be taken so seriously. Do not miss the raucous, irreverent, all-out Hair Metal assault on your senses (and probably your genitals) as the Sunset Strip Live Tour crosses the USA before going back to Australia come May.