Reviews

Foo Fighters + Red Hot Chili Peppers

Kimberly Mack
Foo Fighters + Red Hot Chili Peppers

Foo Fighters + Red Hot Chili Peppers

City: Los Angeles
Venue: Wiltern Theatre
Date: 2002-10-26

Foo Fighters
Red Hot Chili Peppers
There are few concerts where the "show" around you is almost as interesting and entertaining as the show onstage. The Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers teamed up for the Sixth Annual KROQ Halloween Ball, a rare small-venue-concert, at the newly re-modeled Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The only way to procure tickets was by winning them through KROQ and no one could gain admittance into the show without a costume. The assortment of imaginative outfits was impressive: there were more than a few Satans and, of course, lots and lots of Catholic school girls (a nod to a long-ago RHCP classic, "Catholic School Girls Rule"), as well as a Black male cheerleader in a platinum blonde wig. There were also super heroes (some in adult-sized underoos), demons, witches, tennis pros, clowns and a giant duck with a Jack Daniels bottle in his pocket! A local DJ spun classic tunes by bands like Jane's Addiction and the Beastie Boys, while the room nearly vibrated with a bubbling undercurrent of energy. Beer, pot, dry ice and strobing/flashing lights were in abundance. More than anything, it was clear everyone just felt lucky to be in the room. Finally, around ten, the Foos' curtain, complete with FF emblazoned in big letters, fell and then rose to showcase guitarist/front man Dave Grohl dressed like a butterfly. At first he looked like he might have been an angel. This evoked an eerie memory of Kurt Cobain and the rest of Nirvana at MTV's Live and Loud New Year's Eve show in 1994, when, as Nirvana ripped through songs from In Utero, angel statues loomed large in the background. Eventually Grohl turned around and pointed out that he was actually a butterfly: "I guess you already noticed I'm a f***in' butterfly." Guitarist Chris Shiflett was Spiderman, bassist Nate Mendel was yet another Catholic school girl, and shirtless drummer Taylor Hawkins was, according to Grohl, a Playgirl pinup. The Foos opened with "All My Life" from their new album One By One and the ripened crowd went appropriately nuts. Soft, yet desperate, vocals over a hypnotic opening guitar riff. The guitar louder and more insistent, then an unleashing of heavy, driving, pounding guitars, drums and bass. This song rocks and is best listened to loud. More dry ice, more lights (purple, red, blue). This was a rock show. Grohl crooned, growled and screamed his way through a blistering 45-minute set featuring such hard driving power pop hits as "My Hero", complete with a heavy metal-like ending, "Monkey Wrench", "Learn to Fly", and "Everlong", during which Hawkins' drumming was especially strong. The Foos also performed "Low", another hard rock song, and the 1970s-guitar-rock inspired "Times Like These" from One By One. The Foos count 1970s power pop legends Cheap Trick among their influences, and there are definitely striking similarities between the two bands. For one thing, both groups innately understand the merits of the well-crafted pop song. Towards the end of the Foos' set, Grohl jumped into the audience, climbed up on the railing separating the fans in the orchestra from those fans one level up, and engaged in a bit of call and response dueling guitar work with Chris Shiflett. The scene was reminiscent of Cheap Trick's version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" on Cheap Trick at Budokan and was a nice reminder of how fun rock and roll can be. The Red Hot Chili Peppers came out with just a little bit of extra snarl. Perhaps they were excited about this show: small venue, Halloween, hometown. They wore no costumes, but started off with the funky "By the Way" off the album of the same name. Again the crowd went wild. There were problems with singer Anthony Kiedis' mic during the first half of the song, but thankfully, the technical problems were resolved quickly. Preternatural guitarist John Frusciante's strong, melodious backing vocals were present from the start and remained solid throughout the night. At the end of the song, Flea destroyed his bass. Just demolished it in a fit of energy/rage/testosterone. He later offered a kind of half apology about it and then told the crowd he had already forgiven himself for destroying an expensive piece of equipment. Next was the gorgeous ballad "Scar Tissue" from 1999's Californication. Again, Frusciante's harmonies were quite strong. John Frusciante has not only become a more confident singer, it seems he has finally discovered his range. Whether singing in a high falsetto while covering 1960s classic "Maybe" by The Chantels, or backing up Kiedis on more mid-range songs like "Otherside", he now knows what he can and cannot sing, and when. The Chilis barreled through a 90-minute set that included songs from as far back as 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik. They played the anthemic "Around the World", and the Phil Spector-esque "Universally Speaking", with funky bass moments at the head of each. They also played "Suck My Kiss", another sexy, funky crowd favorite, and their newest single, "The Zephyr Song". Anthony Kiedis was all over the place. Dancing (his patented spastic frenzy dance), singing, emoting. Really, is there a better frontman in rock right now? Flea and Kiedis have more energy at 40 than I think most people in their twenties have and that is no exaggeration. "Can't Stop", the new age/psychedelic "Venice Queen", and the Chili Peppers classic "Give it Away" rounded out the set. During "Give it Away", one of the guys in the superhero underoos ran onstage and was politely escorted off by security, and Flea climbed on top of Chad Smith's bass drum during the second half of the song. For an encore, the band performed a rousing version of Iggy and the Stooges' "Search and Destroy", and then came together for a long (about 15-20 minutes) jam where Frusciante put his guitar up against the amp, created feedback, and then proceeded to play with his effects pedals. Kiedis sang something indecipherable, while Flea and Smith banged away. The crowd, who had been whipped into a state of craziness, crashed fairly quickly and folks began leaving early. While the nature of the jam is such that it's usually more about the musicians involved than the audience (read: a tad indulgent), for the serious music appreciator, the jam surely has its place. And in the case of a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the "jam" is all the more compelling, as it is essential to their writing process. After a while, Smith stopped playing and walked off. Then Kiedis left and Frusciante sort of ambled away. Then it was just Flea, by himself for a few moments, before he decided to call it a night. He didn't forget the crowd though. He turned and waved goodbye, exuberantly, like a little kid.

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