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Steel Panther, we’re not worthy!

in SF Concert Reviews by

Michael Starr of Steel Panther made a great point on Friday night, when he asked the scantily clad woman that came up on stage to dance during the final song of the night, why she wouldn’t take her top off. I mean, really? You’re at an 80s hair metal tribute show, you’re pretty much expected to show your snuggle pups when you get called out by the hot lead singer. Well, she didn’t end up doing it, but it was probably best since almost everyone in the audience had their smartphones out, ready to shoot and post to Facebook. I’m pretty certain nobody wants to wake up to that along with the obligatory hangover that seems to follow the morning after a rock show.

Michael Starr strikes a pose at the Regency Ballroom

Louis Raphael

These are the types of shenanigans that have made Steel Panther legends for past 15 years since the band formed at first as a joke, but one that’s turned these four middle-aged men into bonafide rockstars.

If you’ve never heard of Steel Panther, the band is mostly known for their profane and humorous lyrics as well as their exaggerated on-stage persona that parody the stereotypical glam metal bands of the 80s. What really sets them apart from other tribute acts is that they’ve developed a unique ability to keep fans guessing what the hell they’re going to say or do next.

The foursome began gaining popularity on the Sunset Strip during the early 2000s under the name Metal Shop (soon changed into Metal Skool, then into Steel Panther). The lineup consists of vocalist Ralph Saenz (“Michael Starr”), drummer Darren Leader (“Stix Zadinia”), bassist Travis Haley (“Lexxi Foxx”), and guitarist Russ Parrish (“Satchel”).

Steel Panther started out doing weekly shows on Monday nights at the Key Club, playing covers of 80s hair metal hits while parodying the bands that made the songs famous. Despite the various name changes and lawsuits, they finally managed to gain some success after appearing in a Discover Card advertisement as Danger Kitty and in the sitcom Drew Carey Show as themselves. The Monday night shows became hugely popular as a result, with many Los Angeles celebrities attending. Some would even get up on stage, get wild and sing a song or two channeling the inner rockstar that lives inside all of us.

Saturday night’s show was a bouquet of comedy, hard rock and raunchy banter to an at-capacity crowd that couldn’t get enough of it. But before you discredit these fellas as real musicians, it needs to be stated that they are without a doubt genuine maestros of their instruments. Michael Starr not only has all the perfect rockstar poses down to a T, but can also scream, screech and wail along with the best of them. His talent is only matched by the lead guitarist, Satchel, who’s not only perfected the puckered pouty lips look, but has lightning fast finger work on his fretboard to boot. Eddy Van Halen would be proud.

Motor sister opened the show with a 70s inspired sound led by the legendary Scott Ian of Anthrax. Monster riffage ensued with thunderous drums and powerful vocals. According to Ian, the band has only performed four shows and 50 percent have been here in San Francisco. The band is a resurrection of Mother Superior who were an L.A. rock band that disbanded a few years ago. Ian was a big fan of the band, so decided to resurrect it from the grave and bring on the musicians that we saw that night including his wife Pearl Aday, the daughter of Meatloaf. The band and songs are great, the only hugely missed member that night was John Tempesta of Cult and White Zombie fame.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.