“Look Around” the Peppers are in D.C.

©Ashley Lucas

On Thursday, May 10, one more item on my bucket list was officially crossed off.  The Red Hot Chili Peppers arrived in Washington, D.C. to play a sold out show at the Verizon Center.  Twenty-some years later, this music lover got her opportunity to be in the presence of these 90’s funk rock legends.

For what felt like an eternity, Sleigh Bells was in charge of opening the show promptly at 7:00 p.m.  Maybe I’m getting old or they really weren’t ready to play such a big venue, but the band Sleigh Bells largely disappointed to rally up the crowd awaiting to see the Peppers.

Arriving on stage with no fanfare or warning, The Peppers began the musical offering to the tune of Monarchy of Roses.  The stage transformed to a space decked with monitors and lighting rigs that projected color bursting images that complimented the songs beautifully.  Dani California and Otherside were performed before the standard “Hello Washington D.C.”  Much to my surprise -I refuse to look up set lists before the show, the band included in their set the über funky and vocal harmony driven Can’t Stop.  Being one of my favorite RHCP tracks (how can you not love that bass line and John’s backing vocals?), I was especially happy to hear the opening chords but shortly felt a little let down as the thump in Flea’s bass in the bridge of the song was drowned out by the over amplification of Josh Klinghoffer’s guitar.  Is it me or does the Verizon Center tend to do this much too frequently?  Tisk tisk Verizon.  Tisk tisk.

A shirtless Flea, ‘stache clad Kedis and jumpsuit rocking Chad, delivered hit after hit like Under The Bridge and Californication.  The set list demonstrated why these Cali veterans have been touring and selling out stadiums for so many years.  True to their California laid back personalities they trucked the night away with soulful impromptu jams laced in-between the hits.  During these jam sessions is where I truly reveled in seeing Flea be Flea.  Crazy antics, head banging and blinding bass licks were just as impressive live as they the ones on the many videos I have seen.  If you are a Pepper-Lover like me, I’m sure you also missed John Frusciante right about now.  John’s vocals added another layer of soul and depth to the band’s sound.  A tough man to replace indeed (hence why the did not play Snow.)

Off their newest album I’m With You, we were able to enjoy standout tracks like Ethiopia, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, Look Around and my favorite from this album, Factory of Faith.  I told you, I’m a bass lover, team Flea all the way!

One of my first and most vivid music video memories is the clip for Give It Away.  Set in the desert and decked in silver body paint, it was one of those clips that just got embedded in my brain and sparked the love affair with the bass guitar twenty some years ago.

“What I got you gotta give it to your momma.

What I got you gotta give it to your poppa.

Give it away, give it away, give it away now.”

Fist pumping in full force, head banging in full swing, the attending at the Verizon Center truly let it all out for the last song of the night.  Finally, the crowd went wild in a massive sing along that transported us all back to those days when MTV actually played music videos circa 1991.

If I had the chance to do it all again, I would go to the show and stand front row in the pit.  The energy there was true to a Pepps show.  The higher you went up the venue, the less into it people seemed to be.  Or maybe that was just section 100?  My apologies to the couple in front of me for leaving them deaf on several occasions.  I was a Peppers newbie, don’t hold it against me.

Set List for Washington DC:

Monarchy of Roses

Dani California


Can’t Stop


Throw Away Your Television

Hard to Concentrate

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie (featuring awesome cowbell!)

Right on Time

Look Around

Under the Bridge

Higher Ground

Factory of Faith


By The Way


Around the World


Final Jam



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