It’s Christmas time in the Twin Cities which can only mean a Steel Panther show is imminent. As an added gift from the sack of Steel Panther, we get Detroit’s Wilson opening the show. Slowly becoming less of a “best kept” secret, Wilson are part of a burgeoning revival in hard rock. With just enough of their tongue kept in their cheeks to make them the perfect opening act for rock’s reigning lampoon’s Steel Panther.
The last time Wilson were in town it was also at the Myth in an all too brief 20-minute set opening set for muted metallers Shinedown. Tonight the fine residents of the Twin Cities east side were treated to a proper 45-minute dose of Michigan’s finest. Opening their set with the new song “Masters of Ceremony” was a pleasant surprise. It felt like it was written to be their show opener for some time. Going from that to “Give Em’ Hell” off of last year’s album of the year (in one man’s opinion), Right To Rise, and then right into “College Gangbang” (a song title the would fit perfect on any Steel Panther release) off their first full-length album, Full Blast Fuckery, was a solid 1-2-3 punch to the largely 40 and up crowd. At which point they played “Windows Down” which if I could make a request it would be that it not be the fourth song at future shows. It’s a song I allow myself to pretend for a few minutes I’m not there as a journalist and go full on rock. And I’d rather that not be my soundtrack out of the photo pit so that I may go full on rock boner.
They played two more from Right to Rise (“All My Friends” and “The Flood”) before playing both tracks from their just released cover tracks. The Rage Against the Machine track “Sleep Now In The Fire” and Nazareth‘s AM Gold staple “Hair of the Dog”. Both excellently Wilson-ed up versions. Complete with Puhy beer slam. Then came another new track called “How Do You Sleep” which for whatever reason was harder to get a grasp of than the night’s opening song. Then the title track from Right To Rise before giving this reviewer his first taste (that I remember) of the song “Susan Jane” off their lesser known opus EP Standing on the Reel. Complete with marching band bass drum performance that would’ve made Nick Cannon blush.
I had never been to a Steel Panther show. I’ve seen some videos and heard some of their music. Through the website Metal Sludge I was quite aware of their history. Changing their name from Metal Shop to Metal Skool due to some legality. And then to Steel Panther, which they have denied any connection to the band Steel Dragon from the horrible movie Rockstar just prior to the name change, and started to incorporate original material into their what was then a largely cover set.
For their original music, I am somewhat torn. I found songs like “Community Property” and “The Burden of Being Beautiful” the perfect parody type of material for their over the top, well, parody of the whole Sunset Strip/Spandex/Hairspray era. While other songs like “Just Like Tiger Woods” and “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)” gigantic swings and misses at either parody or humor. But I have fewer fingers on my hands (I still have 10) than I have people who have told me I need to see them live. “You’re gonna love them!” they ensured.
They opened the show with a song called “Eyes of a Panther” which I had to admit was kind of fun and a cool opener for a band called Steel Panther. Followed by the vapid “Just Like Tiger Woods” and then into the oddly pleasurable “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World”. After which the gentlemen (he said ironically) in Steel Panther spent the next 8 minutes talking over each other. Regaling us with stories of fucking 8 girls in a caravan the last time they were in Minnesota. Sucking peanut butter off each other’s balls and talking about how their testicles have only slightly touched while fucking the same girl a couple of times.
I was really looking forward to seeing Steel Panther. And for maybe half the time it was a lot of fun. They mimic and embellish the 80’s fantastically. While at least two of them wear wigs, this isn’t an over the hill representation of that time. It’s a celebration/mockery of that era. And at the very least the guitar player and drummer are no joke as musicians. The other half of the time? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong. I expected a sophomoric show filled with low-brow NSFW jokes. I didn’t expect them to pull what may have been the only two Asian women in the audience on stage to dance during “Asian Hooker”. I didn’t expect to hear the same “you sucked a guy’s dick once” joke 11 times. What I expected was offensive, juvenile, sexist, old white people humor that was… funny. For the most part, these guys in a comedy band weren’t funny.
But what do I know? The place was PACKED! Like sardines wishing they were still in the can packed. And it wasn’t for Wilson. It was filled with people who had heard these bad jokes before. Came back for more. And savored every moment. At no point did Steel Panther lose the attention of the crowd. I can sit on my snobby stool but it wasn’t obstructed by the view of some millennial insisting on filming the entire show on their iPad. And while the entire drunk scale was covered this night, there wasn’t a single moment of a drunk ruining the night for someone else. The drunkest person I saw seemed super happy. If anything the crowd of people who hired babysitters and took the next day off from work was too polite. All of whom seemed to relish every “please show us your tits” moment of the show. Maybe Steel Panther just isn’t for me. Because I left feeling that as long as Steel Panther will come, they will too. As they should.