On This Date in History

On this date in history, 12/2/2016 and 12/9/2017, I saw the amazing Steel Panther in 2 excellent venues, the first time at Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, IN, and more recently at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne, IN. Steel Panther is (for those of you unaware of their existence) a comedic version of all the best party bands from the legendary “hair metal” glory days of the 1980’s. Like Weird Al Yankovic, they provide complete mastery of their craft, backing the laughs with authentically reproduced fashion, musical style, and fun atmosphere. Steel Panther live is definitely a party, recalling the halcyon days of the mighty Van Halen, with a healthy dose of Poison on the side. The four members of the band are playing characters, dress and act the part, and never break character. The fans are in on the fun, and the comedy spills out of the outrageously adult themed lyrics to the stage talk, which involves the entire band insulting each other and selected members of the crowd, who eat up the attention with grinning acceptance. To make this all work requires great timing and musical talent. The boys know when to stash the talk and bring out the rock, and rock they most certainly do. Lead singer Michael Starr (Ralph Saenz in real life), has a killer voice with the vocal range to nail all the important high notes so integral to the glam metal template. Lead guitarist Satchel (Russ Parish), is the ringer, an encyclopedia of all things flash guitar, the primary songwriter, and the perfect comic foil for Starr. They do the lion’s share of the back and forth insult barrage that seems totally improvised at all times. It is obvious that they love what they do and none of it gives the impression of being truly mean spirited. Bassist Lexxi Foxx (Travis Haley) plays the part of the lovably dumb and narcissistic pretty boy of the band, pulling out his princess mirror and primping outrageously, re-applying lipstick and checking his hair at every opportunity. Drummer Stix Zadinia (Darren Leader) is a rock solid smasher on the drum kit, but every bit the clown when he joins the others in their “sensitive” acoustic songs, such as “Community Property” and “Girl From Oklahoma.” The songs are so well written, incorporating glimpses of famous songs by the Crue, Bon Jovi, and others, but ultimately being all original anthems of the spirit of those golden times, albeit with some of the raunchiest and most hilarious lyrics ever. The warmup bands I saw at both shows were really good, with Wilson killing it in Indy, and Diamante and some local cover band doing it up right in Ft. Wayne. If you get a chance to see them live and want a night of fun, laughter, and great hard rock party music, Steel Panther is your band.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

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