There May Be Hope For Music Yet….We Are In Good Hands With Steel Panther.

 

6/29/2015

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 steelpantherphoto

I’m not sure as to where I should start this story.
I turned 50 in March, and it hurt. My wife is quite a bit younger than I am.Amy and I recently downloaded a trivia game app to our phones. It is called QuizUp, and we can play against each other. The other day after lunch at a restaurant, we got into our car and played a few rounds while sitting in the parking lot. She challenged me to “Music From The 80’s”. She did pretty well, though I take my 80’s music quite seriously, and there is no way that I would lose.
In the name of fair play, I then challenged her to “Music From The 90’s”. Jesus, what dismal puke! I wasn’t only mad because I got my ass handed to me, but Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Kurt Cobain and endless questions about songs that all seemed to be word-scrambled titles using only the words, “I”, “Love”, “Always”, “Wings”, “Angel”, and “You”. It was too much!

My existence sulked through the 90’s. Grunge had just murdered my Hair Bands. Music, as God intended it….was dead. All that I had to keep my soul intact was a clumsy collection of warped records, screechy cassettes, and a few unpaid-for cd’s from Terre Haute, Indiana’s CBS Music Club.
Van Halen’s, “1984”, “Tesla’s, “Mechanical Resonance”, Ratt’s, “Out of the Cellar”, Bang Tango’s, “Psycho Cafe, Skid Row’s, “Slave to the Grind”, and the pre-turncoat works of Guns N Roses, (the bastards who would later stick the final knife into the back of  Rock). Grunge turned the triumphant screams of Rock into whiny, depressing, self pitying moans.
Axl was the segue to this disaster. All of his songs became 20 minute, self-important, nonsensical complaints about one thing or another.

If the Moncoota Montotta, (or whatever the circle of life is called),  of my lifetime’s music was represented by a paved, 1 mile, jogging track….I stopped running 10 seconds after the gun. I started crawling on my belly and vomiting profusely after 30 seconds, and I reversed my course when I hit the 1/2 mile mark.

Now I revisit my past at used music stores and on the internet. Cinderella, Bang Tango, Britny Fox, Kix, Faster Pussycat, Love/Hate, Salty Dog and the BulletBoys comprise a few of the gems that I now polish daily. I appreciate what I have. I don’t take the magic of the 80’s for granted.

I am now ranked Number 1 in Florida, Number 10 in the USA, and number 24 in the World, on QuizUp’s, “80’s Rock” Category. Ahhhhh! The accolades and fame that come with hard work, dedication, and sitting on the toilet playing QuizUp until I can’t feel my legs.

It isn’t often that I hear a Metal song that I don’t recognize by the first or second note.
I don’t remember how it happened, exactly, but I was in the workshop, working on building a dining table with my BlueTooth Headphones on. A song came on that made my head crank to attention like a deer to a snapping twig. What was this sweet, heavy, nectar pumping through my ears? I didn’t know! I had to look it up on my phone! It was Steel Panther with “Gang Bang at the Old Folks Home”. Who in the hell was Steel Panther, and where had they been all of my life? I immediately downloaded their 3 albums and immersed myself in their music for weeks.
Every single song is twice as nasty as the last one, and it doesn’t matter what order you listen to them in for that to hold true. For several days the lyrics were shocking and hysterical. Now that a little time has gone by, they are only hysterical,  but I am afraid that my own, every-day language may have grown worse. Nature’s way of neutralizing shocks to our system I guess! My kids, surely, will get used to the new me.

To the casual on-listener, Steel Panther may seem to be a cheap band using foul language and sexual lyrics for simple shock value. Like a dumb kid shouting expletive-ridden rhymes in the 6th grade for attention. Listen…I understand why some would think that, but they are dead wrong! Steel Panther is genius. Even more genius than Beavis and Butthead. You have to know the history to get the present.

This band has perfected, and then improved, the nuances of the Rock Gods of the 80’s. Michael Starr, the singer, with his intonations and mannerisms and screams, can make you hear David Lee Roth, or Vince Neil, or Brett Michaels. This man is not only talented, but he has done his homework, and has mastered his craft. Satchel, the guitarist, can take you on similar stringed trips from other bands. Eddie? C.C.? Bettencourt? No problem. Extremely talented. Extremely entertaining, extremely funny, and extremely smart!

Power ballads with all of the sweet emotion and heart-wrenching piano that you expect, sucking you into the sentimental, bic lighter-waving, sappy place that we all love to go to, and then WHAM! You are hit with lyrics that make you laugh so hard that you shart. It is confounding. It isn’t natural.

I checked out Steel Panther’s website a couple of months ago, just for shits and giggles. I happened to take a look at their tour schedule and saw, Belgium, Luxembourg, Brazil, Brazil, Brazil, and then something that must have been a typo….a typo that would have been too insanely cruel…Florida! St. Pete! 3 hours north of us!

I clicked a few  buttons to see how much the tickets were. Freaking $25! Are you kidding me? And at a really cool outdoor venue called Jannus Live!

I asked my wife, “Babe…Wanna go see Steel Panther on May 9th?” She is wonderful, and knew that I loved this band, and she excitedly agreed.

What happened next is a bit weird. To properly understand the weirdness, you have to know that we have 6 kids and we are always broke. This day was no exception. There I was, about to click for 2, $25 tickets, when I happened to see another button on the page for “VIP” tickets. Uh Oh. How much do they cost….and what do they do? After a quick bit of research, I still didn’t know what to expect. I did find out that they were $160 each! Everything got a little hazy after that…I guess that I clicked the “Purchase” button. I felt a tornado of guilt and excitement and wooziness ripping through my head. Mostly guilt. I just spent $320 for two concert tickets.

Gentlemen…What would your wives do if you spent far more money than you should be spending on concert tickets?
Would she book a hotel room across the street from the venue, so that you could stay the night? Would she whip up a cooler full of Margaritas to drink by the pool all day before the show? No? Guess you picked the wrong wife, because mine did those things!

If I wouldn’t have been so busy with building furniture for clients during the run-up to the show, I would have built myself a cool advent calendar to count down the days to this event! (Damn, that just gave me a great idea!). I was out of my mind waiting for May 9th to come!

Lots of normal, mundane, life-nonsense happened between the day of buying the tickets, and May 9th. I won’t bore you with any of that.

May 9th! Finally! After packing up a very unhealthy amount of Margarita ingredients, Amy and I left our house at around 11am to head up to St. Pete. We had to drop off our 2 year old son, Popo, at his grandparents house on the way.

We checked in to The Indigo Hotel at around 3:30 pm. It was a really cool hotel in a very old building. It was funky and perfect for this trip. Adding to the ambiance of the hotel was the feeling of local excitement due to my Tampa Bay Lightning dipping deep into the NHL playoffs, (and eventually making it to the Stanley Cup Finals). We changed clothes and headed down to the pool with our Margaritas.


We got stupid on Margaritas at the pool, and then decided to walk down to Jannus Live. We had to be there at 7 for our “Meet and Greet” and our photos with the band. We got there with an hour to kill. It was a really short walk. Much to our pleasure, there was a nice Irish pub next door where we killed that hour with bloody burgers and several pints of Smithwick’s. While we were dining, several guys of about my age came in wearing their Hair-Band wigs, bandannas, and leather pants. Good stuff. People were  ready for a good time!

We got to Jannus Live right at 7. The show wouldn’t start until 9, and that would be the opening band, “Like a Storm”, a band from New Zealand.

We presented our VIP tickets at the gate, and we were admitted into the venue. We stood with the other people who forked out the extra money for VIP tickets. I would guess that there were about 20 of us. Each of us was given a “Steel Panther” lanyard and an engraved flask. We then walked over to the “Photo Area” to meet the band. It was kind of surreal. Neither my wife, nor I, are “star-struck” morons. I must confess, however, that I was really excited when I saw them coming down the stairs. How could these 4 guys make so much sound? How can these 4 guys be so amazingly fun to listen to?

We all took turns talking to the guys, and having our pictures taken with them. It was a riot. Each one of them was extremely friendly, polite, and funny, except for Satchel hitting on Amy…Oh hell….I’ll admit it…that was Fucking Awesome Too!
After a little while the band went back upstairs to their rooms. We still had over an hour until the show started. We went up to the front row and just hung out up there. At 8, all of the $25 people came in, and the place filled up fast. We hung on to the rail. You could have my spot when you pried my cold, dead fingers off of that rail!

At 9 the opening band started. As much as I really couldn’t have cared less about hearing them, they were decent. How wrong can you go when you heavily mix the didgeridoo into your music? They were cool. They certainly worked hard.
Is it 10:00 yet?

WAAAAAHHHHHHH!! 10:00!! The moment had finally come! I was so freaking excited!
I am not going to go on and on describing the show. I will just say that it was pure, unadulterated fun! Loud Metal, lots of humor, lots of crudity, lots of boobies, Grossly obese girls fondling themselves, 2 hours of priceless entertainment! Michael came and stood right in front of us and made a crude gesture to my wife during the song, “Tomorrow Night”! Isn’t it odd how differently some things can be construed depending on the context and timing? It’s a crazy world.
The show wrapped up at midnight, but I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that I wish that it would have gone on for another two hours. At least.

Steel Panther is a very talented band. They have been in the business for a long time, and they have nailed their act. Each of the members pulls their weight effortlessly. Lexxy’s beauty antics are really funny, but he rocks the bass as well. Stix is a solid drummer with a perfect personality to complement the other guys, and add to the character of the show. He really shines in his spotlight when playing the keyboard during power-ballads. Satchel is amazing. A supremely talented guitar player, and a perfect co-leader of the show. I don’t know this, but I have a feeling that he might be the brains behind the bands’ persona. This band sticks to it’s act. In every interview, on every youtube video, even with Larry King…this band hugs their well planned, well built, carefully laid tracks. Michael is a joy to watch, and listen to. He looks like he is having a great time, and he shares it. He is amazing vocally. He knows his rock n roll. It is obvious that he has shaped not only his vocal technique, but his mastery of showmanship from studying the greatest rock showman of all time…David Lee Roth. Good move!

I have seen lots of concerts. Lots of really good ones. Tesla. Alice Cooper. Pink Floyd. Motley Crue, Van Halen, LA Guns. Boatloads of them. Nobody puts on a show like Steel Panther. Second place isn’t even in sight.
I am Jonez’n for their next show. I seriously think to myself, every day, “Damn I wish it was May 9th tonight!”Luckily we have YouTube. There is a ton of Steel Panther stuff on there to dull the sadness of knowing that May 9th won’t come around for another 2 years, probably. One of my favorites is the clip below of Steel Panther and Kelly Clarkson. I never watched American Idol, and I never knew who she was, but I am a big fan now. She seems really nice and a good sport.
In closing, it is comforting to me to know that Glam Rock is still being represented so well. Even if it is only 4 guys.
Don’t fret, America! Music is on the upswing again. The music that my kids listen to is getting better than the crap of the past 25 years. Falling in Reverse, My Chemical Romance, Pierce the Veil, Panic! At the Disco….these guys are playing instruments again. They are Rocking again. All they need is hair and Spandex. Baby steps.Thanks, Amy, for going to the show with me, and for making it so much more fun. Thanks for not even flinching when I was spending our mortgage on a Steel Panther show. Thanks for the hotel and the Margaritas, and thanks for being my hot wife.
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