Irving Plaza, New York, NY
January 4th, 2012
Concert Review: Steel Panther at Irving Plaza
It should be no surprise that New York City and Los Angeles share a mutual appreciation of what’s “cool.” And right now, the normally trendsetting Manhattan is actually playing catch up to something the other coast unearthed years ago. The glam rock of the 1980s was all about the Sunset Strip. Loud music, even louder hair, and over-the-top concerts were the norm, as most of the guys getting girls back then were even more dolled up than they were. As the 1990s spawned, glam rock effectively was laid to rest- that is, until Steel Panther came along to resurrect it. In 2009, the band who up to that point, was only playing weekly residencies in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, made a rare stop off in New York, at the Canal Room. The sold out show brought the house down with the boys playing some tunes off of their yet-to-be-released debut album “Feel the Steel,” as well as a set peppered with their trademark hair band cover songs. Yet at that point in time, even with a loyal following in southern California, the mock hair band hadn’t yet broken through to the mainstream of our city’s music scene.
It appears with the release of 2011′s “Balls Out,” the boys of Steel Panther have slithered their way out of the obscure and onto the iPod playlists of the Manhattanites who adore the 80s and love to rock out. And if the Canal Room show was their local debut, then last night’s totally sold out blowout performance at Irving Plaza was most certainly their coming out party. At the time of our arrival, classic 80s hair band anthems were blasting over the P.A., while members of the jam packed crowd arrived dressed in full glam regalia, emulating the band they were moments away from seeing.
At half past nine, the Irving Plaza video screen rose and the stage went pitch black. Steel Panther strode out in front of the house and ripped right into “Supersonic Sex Machine.” This new track, like much of the band’s two albums, is jokey lyrically, but part of the fun of a Panther show is singing along to the crass lyrics and laughing as the band members bash each other and their loyal audience. And the fact that each of the songs are as powerful musically as the anthemic rock songs of the 1980s makes Steel Panther a legitimate, authentic concert experience truly like no other.
The audience truly came alive for the show- a tremendous showing for the Panther faithful. With fists in the air, men and women alike recited each verse back to the band knowing every ridiculous word. Songs like “Just Like Tiger Woods,” It Won’t Suck Itself,” and especially, their newest ballad “Weenie Ride,” which frontman Michael Starr watched the crowd regurgitate each word in utter disbelief, were eaten alive by the rabid New York City Panther fans. While the crowd definitely enjoyed the band’s newer tracks, “Feel the Steel” standards like “Community Property,” “Party All Day,” and “Fat Girl,” stood out as some of the more popular and energetic sing alongs.
A Steel Panther show is definitely a unique concert experience. In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon for celebrities or musicians to join the band onstage for a song, and many celebrities can be found sprinkled around in the crowd. Wednesday night’s show was no different with Kevin Bacon spotted in the first balcony, acknowledged several times by the band, and taking the band’s running commentary all in stride. What’s also become commonplace during a Panther show is a cavalcade of women joining the band onstage straight out of the audience, gyrating and dancing in scenes you might catch at a Go-Go bar. Many times, the women will even disrobe to the delight of rowdy audiences egging them on to continue pushing the envelope. Wednesday, the band brought two random Asian girls on stage from the audience during their rendition of “Asian Hooker,” and while the girls were good sports, they sat behind the band onstage, taking in the show up close, but conservatively, kept their clothes on.
In their second sold out show in a matter of months, it’s become fairly evident that Steel Panther is destined for greater things. With return dates scheduled at Irving Plaza in April and May of this year, it is highly advised that you grab your tickets now, because once word really gets out, the opportunity to experience a Panther show in a venue this intimate may not come along again. All you need is thirty bucks, an open mind, and be ready to have a blast. If the moshpits implemented by their closing singles “17 Girls in a Row” and “Death to All But Metal” and the fact that the band has effectively eliminated covers from their set are any indication, Steel Panther has transformed from a weekly LA club act into a “real band” with a real following. No longer is this band a tribute or a nostalgia act, they produce quite frankly, the most fun and entertaining experience that you will ever have at a concert. They are, Steel Panther. And we can’t wait for them to return.
Pick up tickets for Steel Panther’s return to New York City on Wednesday, April 18th and Wednesday, May 16th now! And for more information on the band and other upcoming dates, check out SteelPantherRocks.com.
- Jay Rubin & Jane Van Arsdale