Sunday, August 06, 2000

Concert review: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Pilots out-rock lukewarm Chili Peppers

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        Fifty-five hard minutes of straight hard rock, or a 70-minute showcase of ballad-induced mediocrity: the choice is simple.

        The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined a triple-bill at Riverbend Thursday but were out-rocked up one aisle and down the other by the Stone Temple Pilots, who performed in a way seemingly oblivious to the decorum concerning opener-headliner relations.

        Say what you will about STP — Pearl Jam rejects, cheeseball lead singer, whatever. It all applies, but the fact remains they make catchy, radio-worthy hard rock, and lead singer Scott Weiland is an entertaining cheeseball.

        Half David Bowie and half Iggy Pop, Mr. Weiland's act made the night. In Bowie mode, he was glammed-out in eye shadow, red velvet elbow-length gloves and matching feather boa. Without the stripper gear he was Iggy — shirtless, muscle and bone, perpetually moving about the stage and front rows.

        Mr. Weiland and his band breezed through 10 songs, through “Vasoline,” through “Interstate Love Song,” and the rest. It was so concise, disposable and gleeful at once that they deserved the right to perform their new single “Sour Girl” in an acoustic setting.

        “Sex Type Thing,” the encore, was the highlight, with drummer Eric Kretz striking his gong repeatedly to send off the band. Never has a gong solo meant so much; it might as well have been the death knell for the Chili Peppers' set.

        Granted, the Chili Peppers weren't all bad. “My Lovely Man” and “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” are good songs, and the way they incorporated Public Enemy's “You're Gonna Get Yours” into the beginning of “Give It Away” was clever.

        But the set couldn't build momentum. It was back and forth between funk-rock song and ballad. Fast song, slow song, repeat.

        The set was compiled poorly in every way. The band's songbook is thick enough to keep them from having to do their thoroughly dull renditions of Dylan's “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and Hendrix's “Fire.”

        Openers Fishbone, a longtime ska-funk ensemble from Los Angeles, provided a spirited, half-hour glimpse of what the Chili Peppers were before they bowed to the commercial power of the ballad.


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