The (still) hard-touring Red Hot Chili Peppers played a show in Portland last night and I went to see them. I've been a casual fan of the Chili Peppers ever since my fifth-grade ears heard Blood Sugar Sex Magik for the first time. The L.A. band has been doing their thing since 1983, which is crazy, and I'm happy to report that the geezers A) still look pretty fit and B) can still rock the eFF out. I mean, Flea is freaking 50 years old! His energy, and that of the whole band, really, was impressive.
The big-ass-stadium-rock-concert thing, however, left a lot to be desired.
Maybe it's because I'm old and sentimental, but I felt zero connection to the band way up in my 332-Z seat. So my buddies and I got down closer to the front. But even at ground level, between the thousands of fans, flashing lights and jumbotrons, there was still a big disconnect.
I don't mean to be a grump—the Chili Peppers definitely sounded sharp and Flea, bless his heart, after hopping all over the stage like a maniac ended the show with a heartfelt "support-live-music-in-all-it's-beautiful-and-varied-forms" adieu, which left everybody in good spirits.
But. All this got me thinking. And on my 3-hour drive back to Bend this morning I made the following ultra-profound observations:
1) Stadium concerts are weird.
2) Flea is the man
3) Flea is at least the third best current bassist on the planet (for fairly arbitrary reasons, I still think Vic Wooten and Les Claypool are better)
4) Flea could kick my ass—even at 50, the dude is still roped.
5) When possible, go seek out the opening band at a small venue later in the night.
Although we missed the RHCP's opening band, New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band, we stumbled upon them at Dante's, where they were playing a late-night show. In short, they were awesome.
And there were maybe 100 people dancing and acting like fools instead of 3 million. Which was nice.
Even got to high-five the trumpet player after the show. He was hanging out at the bar talking about something interesting.