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Commodore Ballroom Feels the Steel

December 15, 2010 | by  |  Lifestyle and Culture, Music

Fuck, dude. The best part about seeing a fuckin’ Steel Panther fuckin’ show is just how fuckin’ over-the-top it fuckin’ is.

For those unfamiliar with the foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed, LA-based Glam Rock quartet, and their particular brand of music-comedy that’s as much Spinal Tap as it is Eddie van Halen, Wednesday’s performance at the Commodore would have been a surprising sight indeed. But, for their legions of fans, many of whom arrived dressed in their glam-rock best, the show was nothing short of hysterical.

Photo Credit: Jesse Donaldson

After only a few minutes of listening to their major-label debut FEEL THE STEEL, it becomes abundantly clear that everything about Steel Panther is firmly tongue-in-cheek: from their wardrobe (which forces even the most hardened David Lee Roth fan to stifle a gag) to their music (95% of their catalogue is about sex, and feature such lyrical bon mots as “You’ll be screaming my name when you sit down to pee”) to their stage presence (each member sports a greasy wig and impressive eye makeup, and bassist Lexxi Foxxx has an industrial wind machine placed to his right to ensure that for every minute he’s onstage he maintains a windswept look).

Both musically and conceptually, Steel Panther is committed to every ridiculous 80′s cliché. Over the course of their 60-minute set, frontman Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, bassist Lexxi Foxxx, and drummer Stix Zadinia turned out an energetic and enthusiastic performance, whether it was thrashing away at ridiculous, Bon Jovi-inspired anthems like “Fuck All Night (Party All Day)”, “The Shocker”, or “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)”; screeching through a heavy-metal cover of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”; discussing the dark side of backstage groupies (“It’s a pain in the ass when you fuck as many girls as we do”); or giving the audience helpful tips on sexual health (“Condoms are for losers, man. Besides, you can’t get herpes twice.”). The group even debuted a new song from their upcoming album, which featured inspiring and educational lyrics such as:

“Hit her in the shitter,
Treat her like a critter,
Fuck that lady right!”

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of a Steel Panther show is that, despite an unflinching commitment to the juvenile, every member of the quartet has the musical chops to pull off exactly what they’re making fun of. When Michael Starr screeches through “Asian Hooker”, you can imagine him holding his own against Bret Michaels or Steve Perry. When Satchel decides to rip an eight-minute guitar solo, (featuring a section that sounded suspiciously like “Flight of the Bumblebee” done entirely with hammer-ons), you’re amazed that he can pull it off.

Photo Credit: Jesse Donaldson

This goes a long way toward explaining the group’s surprisingly diverse appeal; Wednesday’s crowd included hipsters, aging metalheads, young professionals, suburbanites, and even a few hyperthyroid goons who looked as though they’d somehow gotten themselves lost on the way to UFC 124. Despite such a demographic divergence, though, the clear highlight of the evening was the band’s rendition of their best-known hit “Death to All But Metal”, which whipped the crowd into a surging, chanting frenzy and, as is clearly often the case at a Steel Panther show, featured a healthy dose of audience nudity. Steel Panther is well known for their hearty endorsement of exhibitionism, regularly bringing female audience members onstage to dance topless, and chanting cries of “Show us your tits!” after virtually every song.

Given their commitment, stage presence, command of the audience, technical skill, and overall hilarity, it’s little wonder that Steel Panther has played four sold-out shows in Vancouver in the last two years; though, by some accounts, Wednesday’s show may have been a slightly tamer outing than their previous Commodore appearances.

“Last time they were here, the chicks showed off their cootches,” sighed one disgruntled audience member at the end of the show.

Apparently, you just can’t please everyone.

Even with eight-minute guitar solos.

Photo Credit: Jesse Donaldson

Jesse Donaldson is a journalist and historian whose work has appeared in VICE, The Tyee, subTerrain, and SadMag. If you think THIS is neat, an expanded "This Day In Vancouver", is now available in book form, in bookstores everywhere, and online at Anvil Press.

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