Glam Metal is an offshoot of Glam Rock music. Early pioneers of the genre include Poison, Kix, Mötley Crüe and Hanoi Rocks. These bands can also trace their style of music from one of the most celebrated groups known as The New York Dolls. Glam Metal enjoyed the height of its popularity during the eighties and began a slide to obscurity or did it?
A band that is an open secret in the world of Rock and Roll is known as Steel Panther. Steel Panther is a Los Angeles based band that started their career under the name, Metal Shop whom subsequently changed their name to Metal Skool in the early 2000's before settling on the name they are known by currently. The group began to achieve notice and fame as a band who cleverly blurred the lines between brilliant parody of 80's glam rock musicians and actually becoming an amazingly uncanny mirror to that era of music and those musicians.
For those who are unfamiliar with the group, their music and their concert presentations, it must be reported immediately that Steel Panther is not for the faint of heart in any respect or those that may easily offend. A superficial glance at some of the titles that the band has penned include, "Asian Hookers," "Just Like Tiger Woods," and "Community Property." Attending a concert where the group is featured will send the politically correct brigade and those that consider themselves morally righteous to blanch and run out of the venue screaming. This is the double edged sword of such parody that is so well performed and thought out that many may have trouble distinguishing it from some groups that may be misogynistic like many detractors of Steel Panther claim the group is!
There are bands that one must see live to fully enjoy and Steel Panther strongly falls completely within that category. First and foremost is the charismatic presence of lead singer, Michael Starr. Starr struts and swaggers through each and every song that he joyfully delivers to enthusiastic fans of Steel Panther. Starr demonstrates an uncanny ability to channel the vocal styles that the band playfully and skillfully emulates while adding a distinctively original and humorous twist on the genre. There are echoes of David Lee Roth and Axl Rose in Starr's vocals, but the singer uses those rockers as a diving board in creating a re-imagining of what a rock and roll front-man should truly be! Starr manipulates audience expectations and urban legends alike and has created a template that alternately reinforces and shatters the notion of the role a lead singer in a bombastic rock and roll band. Starr subtly jabs at his own image and by extension that of the culture of rock and roll that so many have reinforced over the decades. It is a brilliant creation as personified by Michael Starr that so many have reacted so enthusiastically to because the singer's Michael Starr character is truly the ultimate party animal that does not apologize for the sheer joy of life that he displays on stage throughout the performance. Watching Starr perform is akin to watching an ingenious stand-up comedian at the height of his craft. It is an exhilarating journey through the mind of a performer who does not shy away from controversy to deliver a crowd pleasing exhibition of rock and roll opera.
Steel Panther consists of four members that are all definitely involved in the elaborate celebration and parody of the genre of Glam Rock. Guitarist, Satchel is the very embodiment of the oft mentioned idea of a guitar god that many believe Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen and Slash have and still are to this day. Satchel is a genuinely talented guitarist with an incredibly chiseled physique that further endears him to fans off and on the stage. An amazing moment occurred when the guitarist takes center stage and covers multiple rock classics with his guitar all the while standing on Stix Zadinia's drum set! It was an unforgettable moment that further cements Satchel's status and entry in the hallowed halls of the guitar gods.
The most flamboyant of the group is bassist, Lexxi Foxx who toys with the idea of cocaine addicted musician with his wide eyed performance framed by an incredibly thin yet very fit body. Foxx also parodies by portraying the glam rockers of the 80's as a group of humorously vain and empty headed individuals who only became adept with their musical ability at the expense of their personal life! It is another stroke of subtle parody that elevates this group beyond that of a band who has latched on to a gimmick that pays the bills.
Steel Panther has perfected the art of interacting with their fans at their concerts. The group will inevitably invite attractive female fans of all sizes and shapes to jump up on the stage to expose themselves to the appreciative crowd. Exploitation of women? Disrespectful? This reviewer might jump to that conclusion if it were not the for the fact that the female audience members are enthusiastic and willing participants who obviously enjoy the attention of the band and the audience. It is also a testament to the sophistication and civilized nature of the fans of this group that no incident has yet to occur during such lingering flashes of female charms. The only incidence of possible concern was the spontaneous forming of a so-called "mosh pit" that caused many fans to defend themselves from undeserved collisions from wildly flaying fans that were caught up in the moment of the concert, but such pits have been typical of other concerts from other groups.
Yes-the songs are coarse, offensive and disrespectful, but this columnist has come to the conclusion that those elements are what make Steel Panther the very image of what rock and roll was and is truly supposed to be. Rock and roll is supposed to be your disrespectful son or daughter that lacks finesse and diplomacy. It is a celebration of irreverence that is meant to be offensive, but the difference is that this group is demonstrating a knowledge of the ancient art of the theater of the absurd to ultimately shine a light so the element of fun and sense of the party is brought back into rock and roll because that aspect should never have been excised from the music! Steel Panther truly lives up to the legacy of the party and will conceivably continue to do so in the future at each and every show those fortunate enough to experience will joyfully discover for themselves!