When it comes to the rock-n-roll crème de la crème conversation, somewhere in the discussion the Red Hot Chili Peppers will make a cameo. When ranking the artists in the craft of melody, subjectivity is king. Rank them as you please, discuss as needed, debate until you burst that vein on your forehead or even flip your friend off, but it is without a doubt that the Anthony Kiedis-led foursome have elevated themselves to the upper echelon of the genre. You do not pack stadium tours without it being the case, you do not last 30+ years in the industry without it being the case, you do not remain mainstream relative without it being the case; hence, there is a case to name the Chili Peppers amongst the best to ever do it.
For the Atlanta stop of this enormous tour, the California-based funk rock four requested the opening duties assistance from iconic New York quintet, The Strokes, and fellow West Coast acid jazz musician, Thundercat. Long story short, the performance, start-to-end, was a bonafide quality experience. Mister Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner opened with a memorable set under the bright sun and in front of a towering peach-and-pear blue-eyed cat sculpture. For all the weirdness and gimmicks, Bruner presents himself as a musician’s musician. A master of his 6-string custom Ibanez bass, the Angeleno navigates from tune to talk during his 30ish minutes of display. A nice pace-setter with bottomless talent and a flair for cool, Thundercat made exceptional work of his night-initiating gig.
Enter the next act, The Strokes. Steered by Julian Casablancas, the quintessential New Yorker rock band, was and remains one of the most inspirational bands from the early ’00s. It is no secret the outfits like The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs all credit The Strokes with shaping their sound and style. However, on this night, The Strokes had to inspire the thousands on hand at Truist Park. For roughly an hour long set, the Is This It fivesome kept the ship afloat with a flurry of bangers spanning their famed discography from their immaculate debut album to their latest LP, The New Abnormal. The boys from NYC riffled hit after hit in powerful fashion. So it seems, Casablancas was on his A-game; which if you are a Strokes‘ fan, you know it is not a given. Addtionally, Albert Hammond Jr. and Fab Moretti seemed most joyous to be out in the Georgia heat giving their all. Whereas, Nikolai Fraiture and Nick Valensi play the too-school-for-school shtick to perfection. All said and done, The Strokes handed over a set worthy of opening for titans of industry that are the RHCP.
The Red Hot tunes of the Chili Peppers take center stage roughly a quarter to nine. Drummer Chad Smith walks out by lonesome to start to festivities. Banging gongs and waving arms to hype the base, the man in the backwards cap is soon met on stage by string wizards Flea and John Frusciante. Facing a barrage of applause and cheers, the three took the crowd on a wild ride jam session prior to the one and only Anthony Kiedis joining the dais. As the opening riffs to hit-single Around The World blast through the speakers, it is widely apparent, tonight we party, we party hard, we party hard with the goddamn Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The sight is mesmerizing. From the viewers point of view, the stage is set up like a giant wave of graphics and strobes. Inside this tide of magnificence, four legendary cats go to task. A sense of fear of missing out takes over. Look at Flea, no wait, check out Kiedis, oh man, Frusciante is showing off, peep at Smith banging away! There is no right way to view the presentation, no wrong way either, just masters being all sorts of masterful. Nonetheless, look one way, catch an awesome view and miss an awesome view.
Kiedis is a dynamo of energy and showmanship. Wave here, smile there, vocalize here and perform some sort of wacky discombobulated dance there. The formula works, it is riveting. Like any great entity, no one man can do it alone. Here is where Kiedis is met by the virtuosity of Frusciante, the lively spirit of Smith, and the jumpin’ rock-n-roll idiosyncrasies of Flea; which include a hand stand walk for the encore.
Going on nearly 40 years of career, Red Hot Chili Peppers seem eager to please. Seemingly, the quartet want you to feel the music the same way they do. That in itself is big, a testament to musical joyfulness. Maybe it was the return of Frusciante that have the boys sparked on this tour, maybe this is just who they are. Either way, Atlanta got one heckuva show. No reason to question what the motive was, just a night to lose yourself in the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ bubble of touring excellence. Cheers.