Advertisement
Baltimore City Paper

Steel Panther and their "Fanthers": On the Prowl

The heavy metal band Steel Panther played the Fillmore in Silver Spring on Friday night, May the 16, 2014. I was invited to the show with a group of friends, and only after agreeing to go did I then watch a few YouTube videos of the band. That is when I realized what I had agreed to, a night of comedy, hair, and music. Having little knowledge of any band that you go to see perform is always fun, because you get to formulate a true, natural opinion from a first impression. Here's mine: "I was pleasantly pleased at the powerful piece of parody performance art that is Steel Panther." —Sam Gallant Steel Panther is a "Joke-Band". Much like Spinal Tap was to 70's era rock-n-roll, Steel Panther provides a similar humor for the 80's glam rock scene. Right there is where the comparisons to Spinal Tap stop though, because Steel Panther is not even in the same comedic realm as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKeane. I use their real names because they have done much more than perform in Spinal Tap, having all gone on to many more humorous, glorious and prosperous endeavors. Steel Panther is Lexxi Foxx on bass, Satchel on guitar, Stix Zadinia on drums, and Michael Starr on vocals. I will not put forth their real names, because their shtick goes so far that I don't think they are themselves anymore, they have taken on the persona and back story and become Steel Panther. And there is something to say for that level of commitment to a performance. The era of music that Steel Panther parodies with tongue firmly planted in an orifice, is a low point in modern musical history, and they do it very well. The quartet from Southern California has a very real rise to fame story, struggling on the Sunset Strip for years before breaking it big through hard work, commitment, and luck, and that sets them apart from others. The concert going experience and their recordings are enjoyable due to their musicianship. Satchel can make a guitar make noises that it shouldn't in a most appealing and tingling way. Lexxi can provide the groove for the fastest of songs. Stix plays a double pedal kit as well as Vinnie Paul of another panther themed metal band. And Michael Starr hits notes that takes super tight pants like the ones he wears. "Steel Panther was the best live show I have seen in 30 years. I have never laughed so hard at a show in my life. Shred Savage was in the house with Shreddy Cougar." Kenny Liner The show started on time and right into some head banging hit of theirs that got the crowd into it immediately. Between each song throughout the night there were stand-up routines and jokes with all the band mates and particularly with the audience. And between these comedy routines, were songs. They weren't bad. But they weren't great either. The songs themselves are jokes in subject matter, however their execution is flawless. They are perfectly performed heavy metal songs. In all, I was entertained because I like insulting juvenile humor and cheesy heavy metal. The band constantly attempts to have female audience members show their breasts, but this night that request was met with staunch resistance. I have seen more nudity at the tamest of Parliament shows, let alone a Mӧtley Crüe show, that Steel Panther could only hope to emulate. Perhaps it's just the demographic of the area, the women in the audience were intelligent and empowered and weren't about to "show their tits" for a third rate rock-n-roll band and it's pawing, sweaty, drunken audience. This also might have had something to do with the gender gap at the concert itself. One of the only notions I had before going to the show, was that there would be more women than men. Wow was I wrong, or all the guys attending had the same thought I did and were hoping to be hopelessly outnumbered. I would think the sexually ambiguous 80's mock rock group would appeal to women, much the same way Poison and Warrant did in the actual decade. And no wonder, with all the grinding, thrusting, and strutting with sock stuffed crotches. The prowess of Steel Panther banks on athleticism, high kicks, and fast licks. But frontman Michael Starr could only hope to be half the performer David Lee Roth was in his prime. All of them put their heart into it and it shows on stage. Their coiffed mullets, their periodic reapplication of make-up, the clothes that must have come off of the rack of a "Merry Go Round" store in a nameless Midwest mall in 1984. All perfect. The costuming of the band members was matched only by the hundred or so concert goers sporting mullet wigs, tight pants and shredded muscle shirts. The majority of the sold out show didn't take it as seriously as the segment of the crowd playing dress up though. Or at least I hoped they didn't. I like to think that some of the people there were like me, looking for a good time, a story to tell but would not have seen this band before—or make plans to see them ever again. I was wrong once again. The place was full of Steel Panther fans, otherwise known as "Fanthers." It seemed to me everyone was singing along and knew every song. Those that were not costumed were at least somewhat dressing the part, the dudes in t-shirts and jeans and the ladies in revealing outfits and really high heels. I have never felt more out of place in a collared shirt and khakis. One of the highlights of any Steel Panther show is when the band gets a dozen or so women on the stage from the audience for a couple of songs. Between the two numbers "Glory Hole" and "Death To All But Metal," the band tried to get one young lady to show the crowd her "tits." The woman refused. The most gallant act of the entire evening was when Michael Starr did not press the issue once she said "no." Again, way to stay classy Silver Spring, laughing at, but not justifying and giving in to the hyper misogynistic humor and bacchanalia—at least not in public. Race, sex, age, religion, orientation. All taboo subjects in the world, but at a Steel Panther show, it's just material. And the demographic of the crowd, aside from the abundance of sausage, was well mixed. I thought I knew most of the slang terms for male and female anatomy, sexual acts, and derogatory terms for all walks of life, but I learned a few more at the Steel Panther show—some even made me blush. "I was sexually harassed for 90 minutes and I loved every second."—Ben Freedman The most redeeming quality of Steel Panther is the unashamed nature of their poor taste. The performance, much like their recorded music, is wrong and raunchy. It has a sheer lack of sophistication which is presented in the most distasteful way. Steel Panther is actually so broadly insulting and juvenile, it does something that few performers of any kind can do any more . . . Shock you. So few artists deliver such blatant offensiveness without apology, and Steel Panther never apologizes. They just wink at you, suggest that you give them a blow-job back stage, and then make fun of themselves. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I don't think I will ever go out of my way to see Steel Panther again or even listen to their music, and I will never tell my grandchildren about the experience. I will also never refer to myself as a "Fanther", but I am glad I went and I now have a renewed appreciation for the wrist band, for sale at the merch-booth for $10.00, taxes included.


Advertisement