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The Peppers Cull from the Past to Make the Moment

Red Hot Chili Peppers / Queens of the Stone Age
Alliant Energy Center
Madison, WI
May 2, 2003

Review and Photos Phil Bonyata

Somewhere along the road to middle age the Peppers have decided to trade in their signature neo-rap-funk-fusion cocktail for a female friendly dose of excessive balladeering and anthemic power choruses. The sounds of the straight forward By The Way have found the boys tapping into their softer feminine side. Or is it a easier way to sell albums in the short run and possibly lose the core audience that has been with them since Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic and before? They certainly know how to write a great ballad, but also knew how to infuse the masculine side which played off of each other like oil and vinegar that never mixes properly, but always tastes good. Often culling from personal tragedies in life the band has been able to exorcise it's demons with the precision of a broken jackhammer and dirty, funked out rhythms - all layered with humorous pathos and quirky, but original stage antics.
RHCP Meanwhile at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin the California boys sedated father time and found a window to their past. Anthony Kiedis, looking strangely like Brandon Boyd from Incubus, with his untucked white shirt, loose fitting tie, worn sneakers and knee cut shorts, threw back his shoulder length hair and bit the head off of the opening lines of "Around the World." While not gifted with a great voice, Keidas uses his moxy to achieve a rarer result. Peppered with unusual voice inflections at the "wrong" time only helped to enhance the lyrical urgency. Flea, with his ubiquitous bare chest and numerous tattoos, is the bands one true constant. Anchoring the sweetness of "By the Way" with his 12 piston driven fret work he lashed out as if his wife just told him "I'm sorry dear - size does matter." RHCP
At 1992's Lollapalooza Kiedis would move about the stage like a drunken kangaroo bent on destroying the singularity of the stage and turning it into his own multi-dimensional playground. His moves and his stage persona have been copied from the likes of Fred Durst to Avril Lavigne, but on recent tours something disturbing happened. Keidis lost interest. While still engaging, he lost his way along with a step or two. On this night he must've had a date with his muse. "Don't Forget Me" found Anthony twirling like a discarded and demented top. He spun and spun until you knew he would soon collapse, but he rose four feet in the air with a wheel kick and proceeded to twirl like a tornado bent on destroying Main Street. Knocking into some amps and bouncing back he double kicked the air with the clarity of Bruce Lee fighting off his personal demons. Fueled by the honesty of the moment the band unbuckled their seat belts and played not for the screaming audience, but for themselves. In motion again, this time from one end of the stage to the next, Kiedis finally collapsed to the dirty floor. He immediately rose only to make his mic the next target of his aggression. It was vintage Anthony Kiedis. Nowhere after this song would he find this pure abandon again.
The band let out a collective sigh and rushed into the super funk of "Suck My Kiss." Blistery and played with calloused fingers they ripped the notes off with an anarchist's guilt free attitude, perhaps still fueled by the previous spectacle. The band found reality set in with the more mechanical renditions of "Parallel Universe" and "Scar Tissue." The Chili Peppers days of cutting edge music might be over, but for one brief moment the band took us back in time to a place where recklessness was the norm rather than the exception.
Media darlings Queens of the Stone Age warmed the stage with enough sustained energy to make the old building's rafters shake out of it's deep sleep. The band with it's ever changing lineup admirably tried to take it's seat as heir apparent to the next big thing, but ultimately found the throne littered with the lost souls of Kurt Cobain, The Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine.
"Millionaire" had the howls and excessive backbeats losing time and finally just got lost within it's own weight. The punishing "Song For the Dead" lit the fire in the belly and ripped it's way through until the whips finally came down hard and held you in it's icy stare. They can go stoner psychedelic and move right into howling metal without batting an eyelash. Does the marriage work? Not always, but at least they're pushing the envelope.

Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age

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