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Red Hot Chili Peppers On Fire at Lollapalooza

Photos by Chrissy Mauck

Red Hot Chili Peppers On Fire at Lollapalooza

By Mike Duffy

Despite the fact that the Red Bull Soundstage in Chicago’s Grant Park was a muddy battlefield by the time the Red Hot Chili Peppers started their delayed Lollapalooza headlining performance, the stalwarts would not be defeated.

Or at least they wouldn’t let the crowd be defeated.

With thousands of fans displaced for nearly two hours due to the park’s evacuation because of an outpouring of rain that could make Flea build an arc, RCHP put on a show that spanned their entire career and varied musical styles.

Nearing their 30th year of existence and having just released their tenth studio album (I’m With You) last year, the Chili Peppers certainly have an extensive catalog to pull from.

The tribal beats of “Throw Away Your Television” marked one of the lesser-known tracks to make their setlist, but so did the commercial blockbuster “Snow (Hey Oh).”

Considering how many blockbusters the Chili Peppers have, the needle pointed decidedly in that direction.

“Around the World,” “Look Around” and “Can’t Stop” were other radio-friendly smashes that graced the early part of the evening.

Whatever the case, the audience ate up every note, every word from singer Anthony Kiedis and every slap on Flea’s colorful bass. It was interesting to see Flea make the gross majority of mid-song remarks to those in attendance, which only added to his impeccable stage presence.

Of course, drummer Chad Smith is an undermentioned cog, but special recognition must go to new guitarist – who, by most accounts, is their eighth – Josh Klinghoffer.

Klinghoffer is right at home adding character to Flea’s stage-stealing bass acrobatics, but he also steps up when needed, like his searing wails on “Dani California.”

To see the entire band together live is an interesting juxtaposition.  Of course, Flea was shirtless. Kiedis came out wearing a black jacket and white t-shirt, but those didn’t last too long. Smith was in a red jumpsuit, and Klinghoffer casually dressed in a light blue polo.

The entire group came together in a super-dirty “Suck My Kiss” from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 hit Blood Sugar Sex Magic that really appealed to a crowd that had slogged around in the grime since being re-admitted to the venue.

Following “Kiss” was the heart-wrencher that everyone might have been waiting to hear – “Under the Bridge,” followed by “Goodbye Hooray,” “Californication” and “By the Way.”

One more song?  How about two?

RCHP served several emotions during their two-song encore, coming to a poignant version of “Brendan’s Death Song,” which is about the passing of longtime friend Brendan Mullen, and “Give It Away,” the meaning of which isn’t hard to decipher.

In that two-song stint, it demonstrated that the Red Hot Chili Peppers can still be party guys while writing songs that tug on just the right heartstrings.

There was no doubt that the rejuvenated RCHP was a big draw for Lollapalooza, and the funk, rock, pop, soul band delivered accordingly.

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