by Robert Bell
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $38-$58.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers weren't the first outfit to mix the free-floating fury and distorted guitars of punk with the slap-bass thumping and sweaty grooves of funk (see Exhibit A: Gang of Four). But without question, they're the biggest-selling and most popular group ever to cross those particular streams.
I was introduced to the Chili Peppers hit by Mike, my old junior high chum who was always one step ahead of everyone else. He had a cassette of "Mothers' Milk" that we listened to at his house. It wasn't speed metal or thrash metal or death metal, so I pretty much ignored it. But shortly thereafter, "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" came out and before you could say "Give-it-away-now," it had become the inescapable party soundtrack for all the cool kids.
That was more than two decades ago, and back then I'd never have imagined that the Chili Peppers would still be going all the way in 2012 (Is that really even going to be a year? Won't we all just have jetpacks and flying cars by then?). They just seemed so combustible, with their wacky costumes and their drug problems and their outsized personalities and their generally libidinous, freaky-styley ways.
They had their challenges and setbacks, sure. But here it is, 2012, and here they are, not only survivors, but respected elder statesmen of the rock landscape.
Opening the show is session badass, avant-pop/funk bassist and Flying Lotus collaborator Stephen Bruner, a.k.a. Thundercat.