By Blaine Payer `18
It seems like everyone knows at least one song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their unique-brand of funk-rock has been captivating audiences for years, and after their sold-out show at TD Garden last Wednesday, it is easy to see why they are still so popular.
The band can captivate a crowd like no other, but mostly with their older material from masterpiece albums like Californication. Their two most recent albums, including last year’s highly anticipated The Getaway, were poorly received and remain fairly absent from live performances. With each of the three original members well into their fifties, 2009’s controversial change in personnel, and no noteworthy material since 2006, many are beginning to speculate about the future of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and wonder if their best days are behind them.
Although many people will identify themselves as Chili Peppers fans, not many know the extensive and troubled history of the often controversial group. Since their formation in 1983, the Los Angeles-based band has put out 11 full length albums, have been nominated for 16 Grammys (and have won six), sold 80 million records worldwide, and are credited with producing 13 number one radio singles. Those numbers place them at an echelon high above nearly every other band in the history of rock and roll. They are also well-known for their onstage gimmicks, including playing shows while wearing nothing but tube socks covering certain parts of their anatomy.
Amidst their success and popularity, the band has also dealt with the death of founding members, a trying period of drug addiction (and subsequent recovery), and several lineup changes starting from their early days all the way up to 2009, when guitarist John Frusciante left the group to pursue a solo career.
The departure sent shockwaves through the music industry, since Frusciante was a key component in creating the Chili Peppers’ signature and beloved sound, and was integral to their international success. The two albums released since Frusciante’s sudden leave of absence have become the bands two most poorly received albums since 1991’s masterpiece Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Many attribute the change in sound to the replacement guitar player, Josh Klinghoffer, while others predict that the band is simply past its prime.
Their onstage success, on the other hand, has yet to skip a beat. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers played a nearly two-hour set to 19,000 adoring fans full of favorites like “Otherside” and “By the Way,” as well as some throwback tracks like their cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” from their 1989 album Mother’s Milk.
A striking feature of the show (other than the crazy light setup) was that they only played five of the songs off of their new album. It is never a good sign when only five out of eighteen songs are from the album that the tour is actually in support of. Of course, with a career that spans more than 30 years and has produced 11 albums, it is difficult to decide on a good survey of songs to include in a single show.
The energy level of each member is also reminiscent of the height of their career in the 90s and early 2000s. Anthony Keidis was his usual hyperactive self, jumping around the stage like a wild animal and losing his shirt for the high-intensity closer, “Give It Away.” Bassist Flea was also as wild as ever, engaging the audience in witty (and very odd) banter and re-entering the stage for the encore while doing a handstand.
While their new material may not live up to their former glory, Keidis recently assured his fans in an Alternative Nation interview that he will be writing music until the day he dies, leaving the possibility of future success hopeful.
Regardless of the success or failure of their new material, it seems unlikely that the Red Hot Chili Peppers will ever stop knocking the audience’s socks off, though we certainly hope that they keep theirs on.