Former "Funky Monks" show their softer side
The moment when guitarist John Frusciante giddily held up bloody fingers coming off a five-minute improvised duet, it was clear that even as they near their 25th year together, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still know how to rock.
The Chili Peppers played a solid show at the Verizon Center last Thursday, the Metropolitan area stop on their Stadium Arcadium tour that celebrated their ninth album.
Opening for them was up-and-coming hip-hop duo Gnarls Barkley, who, in their tradition of wearing outfits from famous movies, sported gaudy velvet suits as seen in "Austin Powers." Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse blasted their way energetically through a set consisting almost entirely of their debut album, "St. Elsewhere." Their eclectic backup included a guitarist, Beyonce look-alike singer and a string quartet dressed as Fembots.
Cee-Lo was extremely engaging as frontman for the group, and talked animatedly between songs, though his comments were often difficult to understand because of Verizon Center's acoustics. Gnarls' emphatic performance was refreshing, but ultimately outstripped the crowd's enthusiasm — many fans in the audience were clearly waiting for the headlining band to arrive.
After Gnarls managed to rouse the crowd with a momentous performance of their hit single "Crazy," the Chili Peppers casually took the stage, improvising for a few moments before jamming their way crowd-pleaser "Can't Stop," bringing the audience to its feet instantly.
The set for the night was comprised mostly of newer material, pulling heavily from "Stadium Arcadium," while interspersed with creative and funky instrumental jams. They touched on most of their memorable hits ("Scar Tissue," "Dani California," "Californication," "By The Way"), but the band's strength shone most clearly through the jams between songs, where Flea on bass, Frusciante on guitar and Chad Smith on drums could meld their talents into engaging beats and melodies more interesting than many of the songs played off the new CD.
The ballad-heavy set list was something of a surprise, considering the Red Hot Chili Peppers' beginnings as one of the craziest punk-funk bands on the LA scene; the absence of earlier funk material was disappointing. "Nobody Weird Like Me," off the 1989 album "Mother's Milk," and "Give It Away" from "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," were the only two real funkcore songs played.
Individually each member was in top musical form. Anthony Kiedis' throaty ballads mirrored those on "Stadium Arcadium" ("Hey," "Snow"), Flea delivered hard, fast bass with his usual stage theatrics ("Nobody Weird Like Me," "C'mon Girl"), Smith banged out creative and dependable drums throughout and Frusciante played soaring guitar solos until his fingers literally bled.
Despite their obvious talent, the performance moved haltingly at times and the band did not seem to have it quite together for the show. When they played, their sound was nearly flawless, but long delays between songs and impromptu solos and banter threw off the momentum. Minor technical glitches and onstage discussions left the audience wondering what was going on.
But the band was clearly having a good time. At one point, Smith (whose uncanny resemblance to Will Ferrell bears a passing mention) threw his drumstick in the air, missed the catch, fell off his stool and remained on the floor for sometime, laughing, before finishing the song. Meanwhile, Flea, who was outfitted in an old-school Lakers uniform, plucked, kicked, jumped, slapped and dino-danced, as Kiedis crooned, yelled, and flung himself around the stage with abandon.
Though the set list clearly left something to be desired, the Chili Peppers never lagged in energy or musical creativity. At the conclusion of their nearly two-hour long set, Kiedis exited stage left and the band jammed for several more minutes, again demonstrating the raw talent and chemistry that has enabled the Chili Peppers to reinvent themselves time and time again over the course of their career.
Courtney Burtraw. Courtney Burtraw is an incoming junior who is excited to be joining the Silver Chips Online staff. Outside of school, she enjoys playing soccer, reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and sometimes running track and cross-country. She is in love with Johnny Depp, but … More »
Madeline Raskulinecz. Maddy is a CAP junior who enjoys soccer, ballet, the internet, and a good nap. Apart from these endeavors, she spends her limited free time watching movies or, alternately, arguing about them. Her ultimate goal in life is to cure the world of incorrect spellings … More »