Partnerz is a new haven for live music in the south suburbs, nestled in the corner of a strip mall but worth finding since it offers live music four nights a week. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a sign that told us we were in for a show that featured an adult theme including, but not limited to sexual and racial content, obscenity and general nastiness of all kinds. Cool.
The show itself was typical. Typical of Stevie, that is. Stevie, a.k.a. Steve Pacelli, was ably joined by his drummer Johnny Radowski and bassist Tommy Biondo in an assault upon the large but comfortable crowd. The assault at a Stevie Starlite show is two-fold: first, the music is a blaring, driving rockabilly/surf whirlwind featuring musicians who are obviously accomplished and professional. Secondly, the level of obscenity and violent epithets ranging from racial slurs to vivid sexual description is almost too shocking to comprehend. Here's the twist: it's funny and it's entertaining.
Comedians like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin have said things that were, putting it mildly, politically incorrect. Imagine setting this to music. Stevie has a delivery more than a vocal style, and it is a strange hybrid between Carlin and Frank Zappa, between Don Rickles and Louis Prima. True enough, he will tell you his musical influences range from Prima to Zappa, along with obscure bands like Cactus (you'll have to ask him...it's a long story). But the range of his tastes in music is still overpowered by the constant adult theme of the show.
I know that often Stevie has questioned a club owner or person before they have seen him and asked if they know what his show is all about. He admits to making a stipulation before playing, insuring that he "can say anything and get away with it." Surely, once the show has begun there is no turning back. With tongue firmly in cheek, the assault begins, whether with racial slurs or with vivid descriptions of sexual acts and encounters. Occasionally, a few people leave, even after the warnings they are still shocked.
This night at Partnerz, nobody goes anywhere. Taken in the spirit in which it is given, they laugh at themselves and others, delight in the talent of the musicians and the jokes and parodies, no matter how off-color. "There is no one who doesn't go away offended by one thing I say...", says Stevie, smiling and obviously pleased.
When they are off stage, all three musicians are friendly and polite. Stevie jokes and laughs with old friends and people he has just met. All in all, it is an evening of good, amazingly unclean fun. Remember, they don't call it a "show" for nothing. We warned you and told you what to expect, so if you can't have fun at this party, it's your own fault.