Live Review: Steel Panther - The Key Club, Hollywood
Tue, 13 May 2008 08:52:14
Metal Skool, now re-named Steel Panther, remains a Monday night ritual in Hollywood. They're the Sunset Strip's most purely "RAWK" cover band, and they turn the time machine's dial to 1986 every Monday at the stroke of midnight. Remember "K-Billy's Super Hits of the '70s" in Reservoir Dogs? Well, Steel Panther's the '80s equivalent of that, and their raucous show rattles cages weekly with a healthy helping of Poison, Guns N' Roses and err….Journey—definitely the best part. It's certainly not "metal" in the OZZfest sense whatsoever—there's way too much teased hair and too many girls for that—but it rocks nonetheless. It's always a good time seeing four extremely talented musicians put the fun back in rock and roll, while wearing leopard print and spandex. Last night, however, the true metal gods smiled on Steel Panther. Not only were Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Shavo Odadjian (System of a Down & Achozen) and Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) all posted up in the stage left V.I.P. nook, but there was one very special surprise appearance. Usually the fact that real rock stars are even present at Panther shows is enough to satiate the L.A. sycophants and tourists alike, yet there was something to be really impressed with tonight.
Commanding the crowd with his unmistakable roar, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor gave Los Angeles a well-needed fistful of real metal. Taylor's easily the best vocalist in heavy music today, and he proved it by taking a trip back to the '80s with Steel Panther. Donning a vintage Sex Pistols t-shirt and ripped jeans, Corey exuded rock and roll bravado, but as always with Taylor, image plays second fiddle to his immense talent. His voice is what would make the sold out crowd completely lose control.
Pristinely primal, Taylor's voice possesses the power to ignite an audience of pretty much any magnitude. Towards the end of Steel Panther's set, frontman Michael Starr announced Taylor's presence. Hopping out of the V.I.P. cubby past the 20-something-girls-looking-for-love-on-a-Monday and the bespectacled-lawyers-looking-to-rock, Taylor grabbed the mic and exclaimed, "It's been five years since we last jammed together." Starr chimed in. "But it's only been a week since we banged bitches together!" The audience laughed, and Taylor shot back, "We actually never banged bitches." At that point, the band launched into Judas Priest's classic, "You've Got Another Thing Coming." Taylor injected a gruff vitality into the song as he headbanged endlessly and stalked the edge of the stage, giving high fives up front—truly '80s. Blazing through the old classic, Taylor's intense drive and reverence for the material showed through. Scott Ian of Anthrax even hit the stage to riff out the song alongside Taylor. There's something tangibly hypnotizing about the vocalist, and that's why he's managed to lead not one, but two extremely successful bands to the forefront of the genre.
After giving the Halford classic some serious balls, Taylor ripped through Poison's "Nothing But A Good Time," with the Steel Panther Boys. He updated this with his signature croon, as girls flanked the stage, stunned. Now, the rest of the 90-minute set packed enough hairspray to spark a nuclear explosion. Singer Michael Starr spent most of the time between songs encouraging girls to shed their shirts and make out with each other. Meanwhile, bassist Lexxi Foxxx and drummer Stix Zadina nailed "Kickstart My Heart," "Faith" and "Jump." Their rhythmic combo assault brought the songs a new energy, and one thing's for sure, Steel Panther's got razor sharp chops. The highlight came when guitarist Satchel put on a harness and was suspended over the crowd. Dangling from the rafters, he busted out a shred-tastic lead that segued right into "Sweet Child O' Mine." Starr's falsetto carried "Paradise City" home after a collaboration with ex-Ugly Kid Joe mainman Whitfield Crane on "Heaven and Hell."
Yet, Taylor served as a bridge between the gaps. He grew up with the '80s bombast, but he represents metal's paradigm shift towards raw emotion. He became the voice of a disengendered nation, fronting Slipknot, but the guy's got keen sense of humor still. Starr asked him at one point, "What have you been doing Corey?" He smiled and responded, "I was doing my one-man show in Branson. It's a three hour show, and I even do some magic." Pointing to an attractive young girl in the front row, Lexxi chimed in, "Could you make your penis disappear in her vagina?" Corey could only laugh. "This is why I haven't played with you guys in five years."