Steel Panther’s regular end of the year stop in Chicago has become a tradition for many. No, seriously. Some in attendance have made this yearly event part of their seasonal schedule for five or more years now. This first night of the Sunset Strip Live! Tour took place at House of Blues and it was full of original songs, popular covers, bad jokes, lots of laughs and plenty of questionable taste. The audience not only ate it up, they requested seconds.
For those unfamiliar with Steel Panther, if you don’t have a sense of humor, this show is not for you. While the band’s song content and on stage teasing is lewd, crude and garners a massive eye roll from time to time, the band is creative, obnoxious, bold and flashy. Their songs are pretty good too!
The biggest surprise of the night came when the band walked out on stage. I’m sure many said it while other thought it, “Where’s Lexxi?” With no initial mention of this stranger on bass, who surprisingly resembled some version of Nikki Sixx, the band launched into their hour and a half set with Eyes of a Panther from 2009’s Feel The Steel. The majority of their set included songs from the first album, but they also snuck in Goin’ in the Backdoor from their last album, Lower The Bar, released in 2017.
As the band began their classic on-stage banter back and forth with themselves and the audience, it was revealed that Lexxi Foxx had checked himself into sex rehab. Say what? Puzzled, I just knew people were wondering if this for real or a bit. Satchel described a scene with Lexxi and rodents and needless to say, it didn’t end well. Spyder, however, was their reluctant replacement.
[Editor note: A day after the show, it was officially announced Lexxi Foxx will miss the current U.S. tour. Spyder, the band’s friend of over 30 years and backstage doorman, will fill in on bass for the upcoming dates. “We love Lexxi Foxx…and his mother. We support his decision to enter sex rehab. We can’t wait for him to get back on the road with us after he learns how to have better sex,” explained drummer Stix Zadinia on behalf of Steel Panther.]
They continued with Just Like Tiger Woods before playing the first of a handful of covers, Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil, which was very well received. The second surprise of the night came after Michael had mic issues and left the stage to figure it out. The band started Crazy Train by Ozzy when out walked, Ozzy. Not really, but I’ll be damned if Michael Starr didn’t look just like him. His hair looked different, he had the glasses and was wearing a long sleeve black shirt and cross necklace. He even walked and moved like him and yelled out, “SHARON!” during the guitar solo. The crowd was losing their mind! Towards the end of the song, he even got the crowd to chant “Hey! Hey! Hey!,” all similar to the Man himself. Dare I say, it was the funniest moment of the night.
The entire band, except for Satchel, left the stage and he said, “On the lead guitar, makes some noise for me.” Of course the crowd cheered. He then played a random smattering of guitar licks before moving behind Stix’s kit. While still playing the guitar, he used the kick drum for added effect. This included snippets of Scorpion’s Rock You Like A Hurricane, Iron Maiden’s The Trooper, Master of Puppets by Metallica, Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses and Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. He ended his lengthy time in the spot light with the ever popular line from Do Re Mi, in which he also mouthed for the crowd to sing along.
The rest of the band came out and they took it down a notch with The Stocking Song. A special song they only play during the holiday season and according to Satchel, “It’s one of the greatest Christmas songs ever f-cking written by anybody.” Satchel mentioned they were going to attempt it even though they had a totally subpar fill-in bass player. Both Satchel and Michael were hounding him pretty hard not to mess up or talk into the microphone or he would quickly find himself out on the street. Spyder and Stix, who had moved to the front, tuned up their kazoos and there was more banter on stage about the lack of Stix’s sex life. This acoustic song was full of innuendo and words you never thought would be in a Christmas song.
Satchel thanked himself again before asking everyone to give it up for Stix and “whatever his name is,” both on kazoo, while Michael wanted everyone to make some noise for the most important thing. But before he could finish, Satchel quickly cut him off with, “Thank you, thank you.” This was met with plenty of laughter from the crowd. One thing is certain, Satchel loves himself more than anything in the world. As Michael tried to finish, Satchel kept cutting him off. “Let’s make some noise for the most important thing…” “The lighting guy!” “Jesus Christ!” Finally, Michael was able to get it all out, “Let’s make some noise for the people who bought tickets and came to our show.” Once again, the audience cheered loudly.
All night, both Michael and Satchel interacted with the crowd. Whether they were talking to individuals between songs (to both guys and ladies), mouthing or miming suggestive requests before and during songs (mostly to ladies) or spitting guitar picks at them (this was all Satchel). There was more back and forth banter with the band putting each other down, Michael was really getting slammed by Satchel, when they finally agreed to bring a girl on stage. Satchel and Michael took turns making up a song about her, but it was the new guy who had the best verse of the night. So much so that Satchel got super excited, asked everyone to welcome their brand new bass player, told Spyder he was in the band and then proclaimed the song was better than any Lexxi Foxx song ever written. They sang another song to the same person, Girl From Oklahoma, and they let her sing the last word of the very last line of the song. She was a good sport overall.
They invited all the ladies on stage for the next two songs, covers of Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer. While the stage was pretty full, it felt like the stage contained 90% of the females in the building, as this band continues to draw a mostly male-dominated audience.
The main set ended with Community Property, which many in attendance were spotted singing along with and the extremely popular, Death To All But Metal, the band’s anthem. Afterwards, everyone briefly left the stage before coming back for the encore, Asian Hooker, during which they pulled a longtime fan on stage for a portion of the song. As the song was ending, Stix tossed a couple drum sticks to Michael and he placed them in his hat. Immediately hands went up in hopes of catching a stick. As Michael faced the crowd to throw the stick, it became the ultimate fake out as he blindly threw the stick back to Stix, who caught it. Michael threw a second stick and his hat, all with his back to Stix, who caught it all. This band’s got more than one trick up their sleeve. After band introductions Michael said it best, “Thank you so much for making our first show of the tour a kick-ass way to get it going, baby. Happy Holidays. We’ll see you next year. Goodnight.”
The Steel Panther Sunset Strip Live! Tour, the Heavy Metal Mardi Gras Tour and other dates can be found here.
Read the review on opening band, Wilson here.
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