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Steel Panther's Crofoot drive-in concert, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Steel Panther is not the kind of band to sit on its haunches, or in quarantine, for too long.

This is, after all, the band that plays "Balls Out" and offers "All You Can Eat" -- at least according to its album titles.

The comedic metal quartet from Los Angeles has already done two extensively produced streaming concerts, with a third on the way for Halloween. And it’s ventured into the world to play in the flesh via drive-in concerts -- including the first in a series for the Crofoot in Pontiac this weekend. Guitarist Satchel (real name Russell Parrish) tells us it's good to be playing for real crowds again -- even if the setting is a bit strange...

• Satchel, 49, says Steel Panther's previous drive-in concerts have been "great," although the experience is different than standard venue concerts. "It's a little overkill, if you ask me. They had it set up so that people can't get super close to the stage because of all the rules and regulations. I mean, you can go to the grocery store and stand six feet apart, right? But they're literally putting cars no closer than 80 feet from the front of the stage. At least they've got PAs, which make it loud, like a concert. It's still a lot of fun."

• A particular challenge, he adds, is gauging the crowd response during the concert. "When you're doing playing you have to wait to hear the sound of the claps and the horns honking; Because they're so far away it takes some time for the sound to travel to the stage. When you're playing in a club or a theater, or an arena, even, the audience is close enough to see who's having a good time. When they're that far away at (the drive-ins) you have to assume they're having a good time and they wouldn't be there if they didn't like your band."

• Besides the live dates, Steel Panther has announced its next streaming show -- "The Halloweenie Ride Livescream," taking place at 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 (tickets via bit.ly/halloweenieride). "It's from the Viper Room (in Los Angeles), which is where we actually started in the year 2000. It just took off immediately; The first week we had 20 people, the next week we had 200 people and after that we sold out every week for years and eventually moved to bigger venues. So this'll be kind of like a return to our roots."

• As for 20 years of Steel Panther, Satchel -- who also played in Rob Halford's Fight and bands such as War & Peace and the Atomic Punks -- says that, "I feel very lucky. We've all been very fortunate to find a band like Steel Panther, where we really enjoy playing with each other and playing this music. The last 20 years have gone by in the blink of an eye; I can remember that first show we did at the Viper Room like it was yesterday. We've found a way to have fun at every show, so I think we're gonna keep rocking until one of us dies on stage. We have no intentions of stopping."

• Steel Panther's last album, "Heavy Metal Rules," came out last year, but Satchel says the pandemic has been good for coming up with more new music. "That's one thing that's good about being forced to be in your house for six months -- it makes it very easy to be creative. I wrote maybe 10 or 12 songs in the first three months of being locked up, 'cause there was nothing else to do. And I'm continuing to write songs as we go along, so I can't wait to make the next record."

Steel Panther and the Messenger Birds perform at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Crofoot Festival Grounds, Pike and Saginaw streets, Pontiac. $150-$250 per car. 248-858-9333 or thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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