Feel the steel, or should that be: Smell the glove?

Steel Panther

Amager Bio, Øresundvej 6, Cph S; Fri Feb 14; starts 21:00; tickets: 285kr, www.billetlugen.dk


Excuse me, which way is Hollywood from Amager? Don’t think that I’m out of my mind asking you this. Last Friday, as I was making my way through snowdrifts to a party in a heavy metal bar, a funny thought crossed my mind. Despite a rather miserable weather, Copenhagen is all about having a good time – even in the midst of a big freeze. And if you’re looking for a party and rock ‘n’ roll, look no further than this show by a comedy heavy metal Californian outfit that dub themselves Steel Panther.

At first sight, Steel Panther look like a modern take on Spinal Tap, a famous 1980s parody band that mocked heavy metal. Emerging from a Van Halen cover band that sold out clubs on the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood, four of its members decided to create a band that would be a cross between an ‘80s metal party night and a comedy rock show. With their big spiky hair (or is it wigs?!), leather jackets and leopard spotted spandex,  and their humorous take on sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, spiced up with tons of comic machismo, Steel Panther is making fun of Hollywood glitz – and never forgetting to laugh about themselves.

Creating the band’s ‘history’ and inventing a unique character for each member, the band developed their act with the help of digital media, such as YouTube, on which Steel Panther regularly appear and present jocular videos, advice to fans and hilarious interviews.  This approach caught on quickly, and as they gained fame on the Sunset Strip club circuit, the Hollywood crowd began frequenting their shows, with many celebrities often making appearances onstage. Somewhat unexpectedly, this led to mainstream recognition after their signing with Universal Republic.

After the success of the singles ‘Death To All But Metal’ and ‘Community Property’, Steel Panther’s first full-length, Feel the Steel, was released in October 2009, featuring contributions from Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and M Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). The album debuted at No 1 on the Billboard Comedy chart, peaking at No 98 on the Billboard 200 chart. A world tour followed, during which Steel Panther became increasingly popular in Europe, playing at the Download Festival in UK and Sweden Rock in 2010.

This success was further solidified after their second LP, Balls Out, was released in 2011 to critical acclaim. The album debuted at No 1 on the UK iTunes Rock and reached No 40 on the Billboard 200, setting a popularity mark for the band. Due to the band’s growing fame, they were invited by British heavy metal veterans Def Leppard to join them and Motley Crue on a UK tour in 2011, and after opening up for Guns ‘n’ Roses at the Forum arena in LA, it was clear that Steel Panther had made it big.

Acting (and overacting) like the biggest rock stars on the planet, deliberately exaggerating everything that is usually attributed to the expression rock ‘n’ roll, Steel Panther are much more than just a bunch of low-key comedians. First, they’re really good musicians. Make no mistake: they are not in their 20s nor 30s. However, their live show is so energetic they could outlast many youngsters. The lead singer ‘Michael Starr’ (real name Ralph Saenz) cut his teeth singing for many different Hollywood groups. He was the frontman of LA Guns at one point, and an impersonated David Lee Roth in the Van Halen cover band. His vocals are still so powerful and high-pitched that he can easily outperform his prototype today. Guitarist ‘Satchel’ (real name Russ Parrish), a former guitar teacher, has also had a lot of experience, playing with Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame and Paul Gilbert of Mr Big. The line-up is completed by drummer ’Stix Zadinia’ (Darren Leader) and bassist ‘Lexxi Foxxx’ (Travis Haley), who are both equally committed to turning each show into a two-hour party.

And, after all, why shouldn’t rock ‘n’ roll be a reason to party? Highbrow critics may praise the down-to-earth approach of alternative bands, melancholic poetry of the indie folk darlings or super-complex harmonies of progressive rock, but let’s face it: each and every one of them likes to relax and party like there’s no tomorrow.

And this is exactly what Steel Panther are there for: Guys singing at the top of their lungs, girls happily flashing their prized possessions in response to Starr’s calls from the stage, and everybody having a ball. So why shouldn’t we? Steel Panther are playing next Friday at Amager Bio as a part of their winter European tour ahead of the release of their third full-length, All You Can Eat, which is due out in April. Let’s escape the everyday routine for two hours. Amager Bio is going to turn into Sunset Strip, and I’m going to be there. Are you coming?