The R-rated heavy metal spectacle known as Steel Panther penetrated eardrums on Sunday night as they wrapped up their remaining winter tour dates at The Fillmore Charlotte in North Carolina. Located in the heart of the NC Music Factory and constructed in the tradition of the historic Fillmore San Francisco, this 2,000-capacity music venue is housed in a 100-year-old fiber mill in the Fourth Ward area of Uptown Charlotte. As we rolled up to the building on this temperate Sunday night in the Queen City, it was clear the show was trending towards being sold out, as early concert goers were already lined up two hours before the doors were set to even open.
Before getting into the delectable debauchery that would be Steel Panther, local Carolina rockers The L.A. Maybe took the stage at 7:45pm to an already amped up crowd. Fronted by charismatic lead vocalist Goliath Furr, this southern-styled quintet delivered a kick-you-in-the-face set of straight up rock and roll tunes. Bracketed by Dallas Dwight and Drizzle Silvera (guitars), and with support from Rahsaan Lacey (who plays a mean and funky 6-string bass) and Ryan Fosnow behind the kit, Furr lead the band through a ferocious 30 minutes of music mainly pulled from their 2021 debut album, Dirty Damn Tricks. In addition, their recently-released single “Down to Fight,” a super-catchy rocker with a Guns N’ Roses vibe, clearly highlighted the band’s maturing songwriting trajectory. The L.A. Maybe was nothing short of impressive, and I believe they have an exciting 2023 ahead of them.
Hailing from the Lone Star state, established rock band Black Heart Saints kicked off their set a bit after 8:30pm to their guitar-driven, punchy tune “Lines.” Lead by singer Josh Ross, along with Mark Sean (guitar), Nathan Flores (drums), and Ian Cockel (bass), the band jammed through a 6-song set that easily validated their accomplishment of being awarded the No. 1 Best Rock/Metal Act at the 2018-19 Austin Music Awards.
Anointed as an “Artist you need to know” by Rolling Stone back in December 2021, the magazine accurately suggested that the Black Heart Saints are for the fans of bands like Audioslave, the Black Crowes, and Led Zeppelin (in fact they ended their set with a cover of “Immigrant Song”). I would even take that one step further and offer up that Ross’s voice also has a bit of Myles Kennedy coming through. The tight musicianship among these four was highlighted by the live performance of their latest single, “Human Xstacy,” only made more enjoyable by watching the fun-loving Flores beat his drums to death like an angry child. Like The L.A. Maybe, these guys have a bright touring future ahead of them.
2.) One Last Thrill
3.) Touch the Sky
5.) Human Xstacy
6.) Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
(WARNING: Explicit Content Below)
With smoke in the air and the darkened stage only lit up by the band’s logoed banner hanging behind the riser, Steel Panther drummer Stix Zadinia came out from behind the curtain and took his seat in front of a now sold out crowd at approximately 9:30pm. Quickly joined by singer Michael Starr, who was flanked by guitarist Satchel and new bass player Spyder, the band launched into “Goin’ in the Backdoor” from their 2017 album, Lower the Bar.
Describing a Steel Panther show to the uninformed is a difficult task. Take four stellar musicians, inject them with the party attitude of Bourbon Street in New Orleans at 1:00am, and then throw them on stage with raunchy Saturday Night Live-type improv personalities focused on beer, boobs and blow, and you have Steel Panther. That’s the best I could come up with on short notice.
Moreover, at its core, the Steel Panther live concert experience is a celebration of the 1980s glam rock scene excesses, laced with song lyrics and jokes that would make most prudes blush. However, and more importantly, their shows are all about the band’s personal audience interactions, which thankfully were back to a post-pandemic normal at Sunday’s all ages show.
For example, perched in the front row sporting his Steel Panther bandana was 7-year-old Bodhi, whose “My 2nd Steel Panther show” sign taped to the fence barrier helped him score Satchel’s face-branded wrist band at the end of the show, along with Spyder trying to entice him with his “cocaine-filled Boobie Bites.” Then there was my son Zach, who brought a large sign of his own that read “I’m 18 today! Duel me, Satchel?” After some crowd encouragement, this lead to Starr and Satchel inviting him on stage following their performance of “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” to play a slightly abbreviated version of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love.” Lastly, there was Rockin’ Momma Judy, the 76-year-old “metal momma” known locally as an active rock concert participant. In fact, when the band was inviting girls on stage for “17 Girls in a Row,” Satchel joked it was more like “16 girls and a grandma in a row.”
As someone that has been supporting Steel Panther going on a decade, I always enjoy being surprised by the variety of tracks they select for a show. No two gigs are the same, even if there are expected staples like Starr’s spot-on mocking performance of Ozzy Osbourne during “Crazy Train,” and of course the ever popular Steel Panther anthem of “Death to All But Metal.” For the more seasoned fans, I did catch a glimpse of the planned setlist that included “Community Property,” but between the ad hoc adjustment to have my son play Van Halen, and what seemed like a lengthy skit serenading a female fan named Colby during “Weenie Ride,” I guess they ran out of time. Foregoing any encore, the band lovingly closed out the night with the crowd favorite “Gloryhole” from their 2014 release, All You Can Eat.
Steel Panther is now on a short performance hiatus, taking a break before preparing for their recently-announced On The Prowl World Tour 2023, which is scheduled to kick off on February 24th at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1.) Goin’ in the Backdoor
2.) Tomorrow Night
3.) Asian Hooker
4.) All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
5.) Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love (Van Halen cover)
6.) Just Like Tiger Woods
7.) Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)
8.) Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
9.) Weenie Ride
10.) 17 Girls in a Row
11.) Death to All But Metal
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early ’90s, when he sold Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and then purchased a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.