Monday, September 19, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers

So there's this group from the United States called the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Maybe you've heard of them?  No?  Sure you have, they do that one song...  Under the Bridge?  Unnder the briidge downtownnnnn... Not ringing a bell?  Giiive it away, giiive it away, giiive it away now!  No?  Ummm, they also did "Sir Psycho Sexy", but that's kind of a deep cu...  Oh, you knew that one?  Well good.

In case you're lying to me, here's a picture of them to jog your memory:
(Actual shot from the show, but it wasn't mine.  I didn't take any of the pictures in this post - I didn't think I would be able to bring my camera in.  Turns out I definitely could have.)

Anyway, they did a show Friday night at "Estadio Monumental", the home of Chili's most popular soccer team, Colo-Colo.  Here's a shot of it:
The stage was on the side of the field with the flares going off.  The seats behind them weren't used, but the playing field was completely filled with people.  It was seriously a sight to behold.

Getting into the concert was an affair of its own.  My buddy Wasi had bought tickets online through his friend, so he had to wait in line at the box office, then provide copies of his driver's lisence, the guy who bought the ticket's license, and a handwritten, signed note stating that the person who purchased the tickets was legally bequeathing them to him, including his credit card number.  Chile is nothing if not untrusting of their citizens.

After that, we walked around to the other side of the stadium where our tickets granted us entry.  Along the way, there were a ton of street vendors set up, selling all kinds of chicken, ham, burgers, empanadas, and the like.  Interestingly though, everything there was still incredibly cheap - not like a US event, where they gouge the prices by about 200% whenever they have a captive audience.  A lot of it still looked uncooked though, so I did not partake.

We got up to the gates, each holding our tickets in hand.  They had 4 big cops standing by while everybody was patted down and checked for weapons and the like.  Fortunately for me I left mine at home, so I skated through the first checkpoint.  we walked up to the next part, where they scanned the bar on our tickets to make sure they were legit.  I held my breath slightly, as I had scalped my ticket on the street.  It was good though, so we skipped through.  We were in!

Well, almost.  After walking through some cattle feeder-like pathways, we got to a third checkpoint.  Here they looked at our ticket again, ripped off the large stub side, and passed us through.  Again, more cattle-like feeder paths for 20 yards or so, and then to a FOURTH checkpoint, where they retook our tickets and ripped off the small side on the left.  THEN we were in!

I should also mention that this entire time, we were surrounded by large 20 foot chain-link fences, topped with razor wire.  I have no idea if these fences are standard for the stadium, or were just set up for the concert to keep crazed fans from rushing the field, but it was a little harrowing.  It felt like I had just bought a ticket to prison for 3 to 5.

After we got in, we took our seats in the back side of the stadium, directly across from the stage.  Again, in our section there was now 30 ft fences, topped with razor wire.  It didn't obscure any of our views, but it was really kind of a creepy feeling to be trapped inside this area with all these other people.  We got great seats towards the front of the section, but still high enough up to see the stage with relative clarity.  From our vantage point, I was also able to see at least 30 riot cops lining the backside of the stadium, standing buy in full riot gear to break up any issues.  There were also at least another 15 that I could see just standing by in the tunnel to the field, just in case.  It was then that I decided to save my molotov cocktail for another place and time.

The opening band was "The Foals", who sounded like they could have been a Chili Peppers tribute band.  The music was quite similar, but really not bad for an opening act.  In between sets, they turned up the stadium lights, and I was able to get a good look around at the people.  Honestly, looking around I would have had no idea that I wasn't in the United States.  There were a ton of other white people, along with your usual concert-fare of people with pink hair, tattoed necks, and pierced faces.  It was strangely reassuring.  No matter where I go in the world, I can count on the same group of derelicts to frequent live music shows.

Once the Chili Peppers took the stage, it was electrifying.  Everybody started screaming, cameras started flashing, and the smell of hash immediately ripped through the entire stadium.  They had some really cool visuals going on behind them, as well as large shots of the band members playing live, often with some filter effects on them.  And even from the distance we were at, Keidis could clearly be seen doing his crazy dancing between bars.

For those of you who are fans, here's a copy of their set list from the night:
In terms of the band themselves... to be honest, it was kind of clear that this was a warmup show for the band trying to get its shit together.  Kiedis forgot some of the chorus to Dani California, and Flea had to leave for a couple minutes at one point to get his bass fixed.  Klinghoffer is still not in complete control of some of the older songs like Under the Bridge and Can't Stop, and he fell out of rhythm a couple times.  He also seemed pretty one-dimensional in his improv-jams with Flea.  However, he had really interesting takes on Californication, Soul to Squeeze, and Otherside.  The solos and modification to the verses were very welcome.  I'm sure that everything will be cleaner after they finish touring the rest of the world, and come back to the US to promote the album.

It was actually funny to listen to the crowd sing along.  Since most of them aren't English speakers, they often only knew the beginning of the chorus to each song.  So the entire crowd would belt out "STANDING IN LINE TO SEE THE SHOW", and then everybody would quickly tail off and just listen.  To be fair though, it's entirely possible that everybody had to get back to their cigarettes.  Asking them to yell loudly for more than 6 seconds would have been a real tax on their tar-coated lungs.

I also enjoyed hearing Kiedis and Flea talk Spanish to the crowd.  It was very heartening to know that there are still people out there worse at Spanish than me.

After the show ended, leaving the stadium was a sight to see.  It reminded me of leaving a Michigan football game, except everybody walked through a parking lot to get out of the gates.  Some people had parked in the stadium, and I felt a little sorry for them.  Everybody was walking out of the gates they needed to go through, and with the tide of people flowing out to sea, there was no way that any of those cars were moving for a good hour.  The metro was shut down, and there were a couple busses running, but the lines to get on them were out of control.

I was resigned to just walking back to my apartment (at least an hour), when a mini-bus pulled up right next to me.  The door opened and the driver yelled out "Plaza Italia, un luga!" (Right by my house, 1000 pesos).  I jumped on the bus, along with about 60 of my closest friends.  There was standing room only, so we all just sort of were jumbled in there bumping against each other as we drove north.  You might think that the driver would take it easy, knowing that he was over capacity by a good 40 people, and the bus clearly wasn't build for handling.  Well, you would be wrong.  This guy drove like an absolute maniac, passing taxis on the right, zooming around SUVs on the left, and running red lights.  At one point he slammed on the breaks to avoid crashing into a car in front of us, and my pelvis was slammed into the back side of a seat.  I have a nice black and blue on my right iliac crest thanks to that break.

However, we did make it to Plaza Italia alive, and I walked back to my house with a huge grin on my face.  It was one of the best concert-induced afterglows I've had in a long time.  Thanks, RHCP.


  1. i'm not sure I know more lyrics than your chilean cohorts

  2. also, before I forget: during some lulls in the concert, the crowd started singing "ole, ole ole ole, red hot, red hot". After the second time they did it, Flea mimicked the melody on his bass, and they all turned it into a 2-3 minute improv jam, including Kiedis scatting on the vocals.