The gruesome and notorious glam rockers of Steel Panther never leave Finland without their music for very long. Their latest defiling of Helsinki took place on January 19th, 2020, at The Circus accompanied by Wayward Sons as a part of the Heavy Metal Rules Tour!
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The first act of the night was Wayward Sons. We didn’t catch their full set by the time we arrived, but they were a solid rock n’ roll band with pretty loud and heavy sound. The classic rock was quite good but there wasn’t a lot of variety in the music, leaving a lot of their songs sounding a bit too much alike, though that may have been because we weren’t familiar with their music. They worked well as a warm-up act for Steel Panther, bouncing back and forth between their two albums with each song.
Naturally, the main act of the night was Steel Panther. We were early to get good close to the stage so we could witness the madness from right up front. At the beginning there was an epic drum/riff intro, “Everybody Wants Some!!” by Van Halen. This was followed by some sort of rock n’ roll speech before the band came on stage and the madness began.
The first song was “Eyes of the Panther,” and vocalist Michael Starr had dirty and vulgar hand gestures while singing. They’re awfully slimy, even for 80s mock band, but it certainly works for them. It’s deeply amusing and interesting but leaves on feeling quite dirty after hearing it. The vocals are pure 80s glam rock and the sound is very authentic (so long as you ignore the horrible lyrics). They are a surefire homage and parody of the old bands and their style and they make it work.
Bassist Lexxi Foxxx has a fun vibe, much more effeminate, checking his hair in the middle of the song and checking his appearance, while the others are being vulgar; he was the least obnoxious of the band members but had his own shtick, so it wasn’t boring at all to watch him.
Starr’s speeches between the songs were very nasty and very sexist, like a demented stand-up comedian. It’s a sort of gruesome comedy that makes you laugh but you feel guilty about it (being under the influence of alcohol certainly numbs a person to the speeches). Most of what they said was deeply politically incorrect, but it’s clear they don’t give a fuck and they’re just there to have a good time and make people laugh. They leave you feeling violated, but you kind of like it, as if you know you shouldn’t be there and you shouldn’t enjoy it, but you are and it’s great.
After a few songs, the band was introduced with deeply disturbing, sexist speeches and seemed to go on forever, unending. It was weird, way too long, and disturbing… I had never witnessed anything so nasty. Their set included “Let Me Come In” and a cover of “You Really Got Me” by The Kings early on, before continuing with “All I Wanna Do is Fuck (Myself Tonight),” which is a great, catchy, melodic song, going overboard with the lyrics; it was one of the most memorable songs of the night.
“Asian Hooker” is disturbing, with a very racist Asian tune… it was a bit too wrong and was a bit hard to enjoy. There’s really nothing to do but laugh at how wrong it is. Later on, a scantily-clad girl came to the stage, flashed her chest, and then drummer Stix Zadinia motorboated her before she returned to the crowd. It seemed as though she might be part of the show, as opposed to a fan, but who can say in this sort of show?
There was also a moment when guitarist Satchel was playing a solo and two guys came out (admittedly I can’t remember if it was the other band members or not) with leafblowers to make his hair go wild. “Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World” was a great party song and one of the least nasty songs of the night. There was also a can of hairspray that was used throughout the show, where they would fix up their hair in the middle of the songs. Satchel then had a center-stage guitar solo that proves that, despite their gruesome lyrics and speeches, they are actually very good musicians. Michael Starr had plenty of pelvic thrusting in those tight pants that leave very little to the imagination.
Prior to “Weenie Ride,” they brought a girl onto the stage and asked her to “show your tits,” and of course she did – unlike before, this did not seem staged. The band then serenaded her with “Weenie Ride,” as Michael Starr sat next to her, passionately singing, “I want to put my fist up your poop-shoot,” and then grabbed her breast. It’s possible that civilization has died… he told her that her pussy smelled good. We could only watch in awe and disgust.
During the Bonjovi rip-off song, “Party All Day (Fuck All Night),” they brought up a bunch of girls (including the first one to show her breast), who remained for “17 Girls in a Row” to dance and party. Some of them grabbed the musicians and did some grinding in an insane bacchanalia. A few got autographs while they were up there and then went away.
“Community Property” was a rather beautiful ballad, provided you don’t listen to the lyrics too closely. After this, they decided to bring a few of the guys from Five Finger Death Punch, Jason Hook, Chris Kael, and Charlie Engen, onto the stage, calling them pussies who wouldn’t dare to come on stage to play Van Halen with them, so the band rose to the challenge and the band handed over their instruments and 5FDP played “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Michael Starr stayed on vocals since Ivan Moody wasn’t there; they got off to a rocky start but then it smoothed out quickly. It was a really fun moment. It’s hard to say if it was planned or not, but the bands appear to be friends so it was a lot of fun.
Once this was over, the band was left with “Death to All but Metal,” a great song and another one of the best of the night, before they left the stage. There was a great, nearly Manowar-style chant of the title, which made the crowd go really wild. They returned for their nastiest, dirtiest song for an encore, “Gloryhole,” which was catchy and fun and worth hearing.
Nasty and vile are two good words to describe this show. Nothing was boring, the pacing was good (except perhaps those intros). Disturbing, upsetting, but so much fun that we felt genuinely horrified for having had such a good time. Nevertheless, it was a really great night and fans were certain to have been thrilled by the gig. It’s impossible to condone this behavior, but… well, it’s not often called “shock rock” for no reason, right?
Intro: Everybody Wants Some!! – Van Halen
1. Eyes of a Panther
2. Let Me Come In
3. You Really Got Me [The Kinks cover]
4. All I Wanna Do is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
5. Asian Hooker
6. Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World
7. Poontang Boomerang
8. Fuck Everybody
9. I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling
10. Weenie Ride
11. Party All Day (Fuck All Night)
12. 17 Girls in a Row
13. Community Property
14. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love [Van Halen cover] ft. Jason Hook, Chris Kael, & Charlie Engen of 5FDP
15. Death to All but Metal