‘Twas the last night of the tour, and the panthers prowled all through New Haven, just like Tiger Woods. Steel Panther rolled into town for the final stop on their Claus and Paws Holiday Party U.S. tour and the legendary club, Toad’s Place, we set for a party.
Steel Panther – Small Town Titans
Toad’s Place, New Haven – 4 December 2022
Words and Photography: Shannon Wilk
Energy spread through the crowd like wildfire as the intro music, Van Halen’s Unchained, began to play. Steel Panther took the stage and burst into Goin’ In The Backdoor. Clad in the typical ’80s garb, these four dudes are guaranteed rock n’ roll machines.
After a power-packed performance of Tomorrow Night, the guys announced that drummer Stix Zadinia would be doing his Rick Allen impression. As Zadinia tucks his arm into his shirt, the band goes into a few bars of Def Leppard’s Photograph.
As the band brought a fierce performance of Asian Hooker, frontman Michael Starr put his foot up on the barricade and sang to a few special people in the front row. Leaning even more into the sexual element with All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight), everyone was screaming the explicit lyrics with glee.
After ringing out the last notes, the band welcomed a fan onstage to play the guitar on Van Halen’s Panama. 17-year-old Jake Hunziker performed like a pro onstage with this legendary band. “You’re fired, Satchel,” remarks Starr.
After the ecstatic fan returned to the crowd, the band played their latest single, Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight). These four guys clearly have a great bond as they playfully bump into each other and march in sync. Frontman Michael Starr leaves the stage, and Satchel takes the mic saying, “we’re now the perfect Rush tribute band,” and the three go into the iconic riff from Rush’s The Spirit Of Radio”.
“I’m gonna do my best Randy Rhoads,” says Satchel, and the band fly into Crazy Train. All of a sudden, the band’s tour manager is escorting one Michael Starr, as Ozzy Osbourne, onto the stage. Mimicking all the modern-day and classic Ozzy moves, even biting the head off a fake bat, Starr surely knows how to put on a show.
Bassist Spyder passes his bass to a tech, and drummer Stix comes out from behind his kit. All four guys come together at the front of the stage wearing Santa hats – Starr with a mic, Satchel with an acoustic guitar, and Zadinia and Spyder both with kazoos. Of course, being the Claus and Paws Holiday Party tour, the band had to spread some holiday cheer with The Stocking Song.
Now it was the time of the night when Steel Panther invite a beautiful woman onstage to serenade her with Girl From Oklahoma. Tonight’s special lady was “Sexy Simone”, coined by Mr Starr, of course. Obviously, one girl was not enough to please the Panther boys, so they invited all the hot ladies in the audience to come up onstage for 17 Girls In A Row.
The set closed with the song that made the world discover the phenomenon that is Steel Panther – Death To All But Metal.
But they were not done. They could not leave without letting the audience know their dicks are Community Property and, of course, to head down the road to the legendary Gloryhole.
Steel Panther put on an incredibly entertaining, well-rehearsed set and despite all the hate they receive, they still packed the house and brought the party.
Small Town Titans
Opening up the night were York, PA’s Small Town Titans. This rock n’ roll trio walked onstage, ready to rile up the crowd for what was to come. Vocalist Phil Freeman sings with menacing, wide-range clean vocals, which make for a full-sounding group.
While Freeman brought his A game sonically, guitarist Ben Guiles brought the energy, making the stage his stomping ground. Their set included a few originals – Behind The Moon, Rufflin’ Feathers, The Man and Rowdy & Reckless, as well as their own take on the holiday classic You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.
Whilst banging the drums, Jonny Ross also brought the vocal harmonies making for an even stronger, bigger sound, something not many three-piece groups are able to do. Guiles and Freeman had a friendly vocal vs guitar duel at the end of the set, which impressed the crowd as they excitedly cheered, awaiting the next move.