Big hair, bigger egos, vapid groupies, never-ending guitar solos, spandex — there’s much to mock when it comes to ’80s-era metal, especially the brand of hairspray and guyliner rock that was hatched right here on the Sunset Strip. Steel Panther (formerly Metal Shop, and Metal Skool before that) have been plying this trade for over a decade now, and, shockingly, the joke hasn’t gotten old. Every Monday night the foul-mouthed foursome take the stage at the Key Club (the former site of famed hairsprayer haunt Gazzarri’s) and serve up relentless renditions of scream-and-dream classics from the likes of Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue and Van Halen. Their covers are spot-on, inciting zealous sing-alongs from the crowd (a mix of aging rockers, neo-glamsters and celebs), but it’s the between-song schtick that shows the true talent of these wigged wannabes — who never break character, by the way. Panther are more than a cover band, they’re an audacious satire of the rock-star mentality (think Spinal Tap, only more X-rated). Whether it’s bragging about their STDs or dissing each other or modern metal heroes (System of a Down, who often get on stage to jam, are referred to as Down’s Syndrome), they do it balls to the wall. Those skewered the most — rock stars — are its biggest fans, and surprise guests still pop on stage to jam almost weekly, from aged where-are-they-now musicians to the likes of Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Pink and even Jessica Simpson (twice). Rocking like a hurricane with these heavy-metal hell-raisers has become a Sunset Strip staple, and like chowing pizza at the Rainbow or looking through the lube selection at the Hustler store, it’s something everyone should do on the Strip at least once. Do all three in one night and you’re practically a rock star yourself.
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