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Live Reviews : Steel Panther @ Big Top, Sydney 18/05/2018

By on May 20, 2018

Images: Clinton Hatfield
Words: Jake Wiffen

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I couldn’t imagine a more fitting venue for a Steel Panther show than the Big Top at Sydney’s Luna Park. Walking in past the carnival rides painted with vividly bright colours and smiling faces that at first glance appear friendly and exhume a sense of innocence and fun, though on closer inspection the faces are warped with crack toothed grins and strangely grim, the paint is peeling and full of runs and it becomes clear that this is just an imitation of a once glorious time of decadence and fun.

Slipping through the doors of the Big Top is like a slap in the face, the lights are so bright I can’t help but squint and hold my hand over my eyes as some faint protection against the harsh reality check that this crowd ain’t no metal crowd. It looks like the major percentage of Sydney’s western suburbs has clashed like the Penrith Panthers front row into the glitter dykes float from Sydney’s gay and lesbian Mardi Gras. There are tough looking brick layer types in fluorescent mullet wigs and spandex sporting vodka cruisers, it seems like a memo went out to every plump girl that undersized lycra and nans worst headband is mandatory upon entry.

The atmosphere is thick and almost static, it feels more dangerous than fun.

To my amazement, there is no opening band, it’s probably a good thing, to be honest. This crowd looks like they came here for one song and one song only and that’s ‘Asian Hooker”, an opening band would have at best been ignored…at worst and more likely, bottled off stage.

Thankfully Steel Panther don’t fuck around like the bands of old and they get right into it. Storming the stage whilst the stereo blasts Van Halen. The crowd explodes and with this rable, I cant tell if it’s the blokes or the…um… “ladies” that are screaming at Michael Star and letting the room know they want to fuck Lexi the bass player, who of course has his large hand-held mirror firmly in front of his pursed lips.

Now I tried to see Steel Panther back in 2007 when they went under the moniker of Metal Skool, filling all the 80’s clubs of the sunset strip. This was back before ‘Death To All But Metal’ with the band having a wild following. met with a line that twisted its way around two city blocks and for good reason. Safe to say all jokes aside these blokes know how to play and they do not disappoint even though It seems the act has become more of a stand-up show than a gig over the years. Over the 2 hours on stage, I don’t really think they played more than 10 songs. They split this up into 3 sets, Originals followed by some classic covers and then a few more originals, which even they joke about the authenticity of their songs actually being original.

Girls are invited onstage and most seem to be more than willing to show a little skin and in some cases a lot of skin. At one point the stage is filled with somewhere near 30 of punchbowls finest debutants flapping and wobbling around trying to take selfies with Star and getting in more than a few handfuls of the band’s spandex-clad packages. It’s like watching a trainwreck in slow motion, I feel sick watching but somehow I cannot peel my eyes away.

I can’t help but notice that very few in the crowd are actually listening to the band, it seems the blokes are there to see some pock smeared skin and the birds are there to offer that very flesh. The band has truly entered the twilight zone, they seem to be getting away with murder, truly demeaning behaviour that in any other setting would have every “don’t call me a chick, chick” picketing their shows in disgust. Its dark humour done extremely well over a soundtrack played better than any of the bands they have modelled their sound off and the best part is that this crowd seem to be completely missing the joke, in fact, it seems the crowd has become the joke and Steel Panther are taking full advantage of them.

Just to make sure I go home knowing that this ain’t a regular gig, on my way out I met with more than one compliment on my “cool outfit” which was just jeans a denim jacket and an Acubra, pretty standard rock show attire but as far as the westie blow-ins are concerned I’m either from fucking Mars or I’m the best dressed at their once a year “lets act gay but I’m not gay” event.

Thankfully not too far from this show there is a bar called Frankies, like a heavy metal lighthouse in rough seas standing as the last vigil against the sea of outer Sydney nut jobs and in this bar is everything a rock n roll fan could ever need, though most importantly they have cold beer to wash this seedy event from my memory.