That's Steve Kudlow above -- otherwise known as "Lips," frontman for Canadian metal band Anvil, subject of an eponymous rockumentary now showing at the Magnolia. Last night, on opening night, the band came to Dallas for what its members (Lips, drummer Robb Reiner, bassist Glenn Five) refer to as "The Anvil Experience": the movie, followed by Q&A, followed by another screening, followed by an abbreviated performance during which they knock out a few chunks of metal (including "White Rhino," all drum solo, and the band's anthem, "Metal on Metal") before it's "Good night, Dallas, fuck, yeah" and out the door. (Update: see for yourself in our slide show.)
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Right about now, matter of fact, the band ought to be landing in Los Angeles, where tomorrow night, with Jackass Steve-O, it'll present at the MTV Movie Awards -- a far cry from the pre-release anonymity in which Anvil toiled following its brief taste of mid-'80s fame as beloved and then entirely forgotten progenitors of thrash-metal. Kudlow and Reiner, friends and bandmates for nearly 40 years, are finally the stars they thought they'd be when they were slightly closer to bar mitzvah age. Last night, before our Q&A, Kudlow was on the phone with director Sacha Gervasi, telling him that Howie Mandel's been trying to get hold of him. "He says we're, like, second cousins, man," Kudlow shouts into the cell. "What the fuck's that about, man?"
Gervasi had called to make sure all was well on the promo tour, which began -- hell, "two months ago?" Reiner said, pleased but also tired, at least till showtime. "I need to feed off the audience," he offered during a pre-screening visit in the Magnolia offices -- where Reiner and Kudlow camped out from 1:45 Friday afternoon till it was showtime, sitting in a dimly lit room for hours just to chill. Lips is the frontman, but Reiner's the star -- rare's the metal drummer who can make that much noise but still keep time like a Audemars Piguet.
The 9:45 p.m. screening was sold out -- 290 people jammed into theater No. 5, where a movie that plays like This is Spinal Tap in reverse gave way to an arena show shrunk way down -- the audience on its feet, heads bobbing up and down, cell phones out to snap blurred memories, the black tees and ball cap crowd all grins and fist pumps for the monsters of rock who sell their own merch in theater lobbies between showtimes. Reiner told me before the show that far as he can recall, last time Anvil played Dallas, it was, oh, probably '89. "Pantera opened for us," he said, most likely at the Basement. Which is where the band spent the next 20 years, till a movie about how they never became stars made them stars.
Metal on metal. Keep on rockin'. Fuck, yeah.