This Is...Not...Spinal Tap

Published On : 4/17/2012 1:10 PM
From : NPR
Categories : Arts, Local, State
David Fleming

So – in between cataloguing my jazz LPs, sorting through my ambient and classical discs, and listening to something really reflective by Eric Satie…it was a trip to a local grocer, where a friend offered up some tickets for something a bit different…Heavy frackin' Metal! Well, one band was. Two other bands were just good, hard, edgy rock. Refreshing. Then there was the headliner – Steel Panther!

On the surface, these guys seem like a spandexed hair-band stuck in the 80’s.
(((and believe me – those stuck in the '80's, spandexed hair-bands are still out there. As soon as I MySpace friended Nikki Sixx, I started hearing from a bunch of ‘em. But back to Steel Panther.)))

Check ‘em out though. Dig just a bit. Dig below the stereotypes of the rock n’ roll lifestyle of fast music, loud parties and beautiful women. These guys are a parody band, and they push these stereotypes to the nth degree. They’ll have you mixing the rock with fast parties and loud women. Ralph Saenz provides lead vocals under the name of Michael Starr. The (phenomenal) lead guitarist, Russ Parrish, goes simply by the name of Satchel. These two had played together previously in Atomic Punks – a David Lee Roth era Van Halen tribute band. At this point, Ralph Saenz had the look, sound and mannerisms down so well that he held the nickname of David Lee Ralph. True enough. It’s been said that he looks and sounds more like David Lee Roth than, well, David Lee Roth. Having seen them – I’d have to agree. Oh. And did I mention? Saenz holds a PhD in English literature from Berkley, and was an Assistant Professor before turning to the world of glam. Rounding out the group - bassist Travis Haley as “Lexxi Foxxx” and Darren Leader on the drums as “Stix Zadinia” (say this one out loud a few times). All four have their shtick (and mascara) down to a “T”, and clown, mimic, and pay homage to ‘80’s rock, while throwing in a few originals to boot. And conTINually riffing on each other. A fantastic show that’ll keep you laughing. And singing. And occasionally cringing.

Another highlight of a Steel Panther show is the appearance of celebrities – getting called from the crowd to the stage. I mean…it’s LA. The Sunset Strip. They’re there. Past shows have anywhere from Steve Stevens, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, or even Billy Ray Cyrus showing up. The night I was there was no exception. The first to be called from the audience was bassist and songwriter Billy Sheehan, who used to play with post-Van Halen David Lee Roth, and later, Mr. Big. Another bass player to get called from his table that night was Jeff Pilson, formerly of Dokken. Ray Luzier, drummer for Korn for the last few years, joined in on stage, as did Shannon, lead vocalist from “Dia” – an all-female Ronnie James Dio cover band. I really shoulda been wiped out by much earlier in the evening, but these guys kept it going until near 1:30. At this point, ya wander the crowd and find out that all of the previous bands have stuck around for the rest of the show, and are easily accessible. Steel Panther does this every week.

This has gone on too long, but I must include: The lineup started with Yolanda and the Stolen Boys, a band out of Australia touring for a few weeks in the US. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they were a great to see live, and it’s unfortunate that not a lot of people had made it to the venue yet. Kinda surprising, in that online pics of the Key Club on the Sunset Strip show lines of people going around the block. The next band was XNO (pronounced, ZEE-noh). This was the Metal band to which I referred, and the energy level stayed high as the place slowly filled. The group to follow, again, was one that I’d not heard of, but glad to have caught…Honeysmash. These guys – and XNO are locally based and I’ll definitely be seeing them again.

Go to Steel Panther’s official website. Check out their videos. Go YouTubing and watch some of their interviews, and surprise celebrity cameos.

You may be highly offended.

But then again…you may just laugh your butt off. Give it a shot.

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