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Steel Panther bring down the house in Vancouver

Satire is always a risky process. Realistically, any type of comedy is, but satire especially, because it is so much more straight-faced than a simple stand-up routine or a sitcom. Satire runs the risk of people not realising that it is in fact satire and taking it at face value instead. Such is the tale of Steel Panther, the best balls-out – sometimes literally – no frills, 80s metal parody.

The quartet of Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxx, Stix Zadinia, and Satchel enact the part of the 80s glam metal band perfectly, playing up the obscene and profane elements with humourous effectiveness, engaging in mock-stage arguments and preening vanity.

They generally play two nights every time they come to Vancouver – usually around New Years Eve, – but this time it’s late October, at new venue The Hard Rock Casino. It’s actually a bit out of the way from the core of the city, but still worth the journey.

The band don’t fuck around, opening the set with wild rocker “Eyes of a Panther“; about as serious a song as they’re ever liable to write. Its energetic chorus certainly couldn’t have stirred up the crowd any easier than if they’d used lube; Michael’s David Lee Roth swagger suits the song perfectly. Following it up with the slower “Fat Girl” is an interesting choice, but the healthy dollop of “woaahh-ohs” ensures we’re all nicely invested in the band’s set by the time the first two songs are done.

After some extended stage banter they move into “Gold Digging Whore“, the first song from their most recent album All You Can Eat. A strong chorus, as usual, combines with some pretty nice guitar work from Satchel, and it’s a good song to get back into the set after what feels like just a bit too long talking and introducing the band.

As stage veterans, Steel Panther’s ability to inspire crowd participation is on point. For their classic “Asian Hooker” they encourage an Asian girl from the front row up on stage with them, signing her chest and getting her to dance during the song. “Girl From Oklahoma” sees two more brought up on stage to dance with Michael, and later they go for the jackpot with ”17 Girls In a Row“. They only manage about thirteen – are they losing their touch? – but it’s a great time. Women of all ages are welcomed up, and the band call on the crowd to “Give it up for someone that is comfortable in their own skin!” It may be under the cover of tongue-in-cheek fun at the expense of 80s hair metal, but being positive towards other people like that is great to see.

A few newer songs, including the ode to partying that is “Party Like It’s The End of the World“, precede Lexxi Foxx’s vaunted ‘hair solo’, which sees him playing a single note on the bass while Michael and Satchel use leaf blowers to make his hair fly everywhere. It’s pretty damn silly, but it’s exactly what the band is all about.

Signature song “Death To All But Metal” absolutely brings the house down, while an encore of “Community Property” has crowd singing the first verse a cappella.

Steel Panther aren’t everyone’s bag. Certainly, their glam metal attitude, even allowing for the fact that it is satire, can bother some and their obscene and profane lyrics are a turnoff for some. That said, for those that do enjoy it, their live show is incredibly fun. Between Lexxi continuously going to check himself out in the mirror at the side of the stage and the constant banter between the members, they are quite a spectacle. I wouldn’t call it life-changing, but I will remember the experience, and I might go see them again given the chance.

Photos: Visions in Pixels by Derek Carr

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