Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Solidarity: RHCP

I very much remember my earliest taste of the poignancy of a life beyond playing pretend in tree forts and making friendship bracelets.  My friend Natalie and I stumbled across the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik in her older brother’s cassette player in her parents’ mostly unfinished basement one fall afternoon and this music changed my life.

It was 1991, and we had just started 6th grade, on the heels of a turbulent time when Iraq invaded Kuwait a year earlier, and the US’ ground invasion pressed onward into the Gulf.  The USSR poorly weathered a coup and teetered on the brink of collapse, Yugoslavia prepared to split asunder and the former solidities of my youth and Ronald Reagan shook fiercely.  What an unsullied time, when I didn’t know I’d be in Iraq myself in a few short years, and long before life’s challenges muddled my best intentions and the lines between good and bad became well smudged. 

The innuendos of Blood Sugar Sex Magik foreshadowed the vitalities of our nascent adulthood – something two 11 year olds could sense but not name.  I perceived the nefarious side to just what might be under that bridge though I was too na├»ve to guess what salacious "it" they were giving away now.  The ingenuousness in my life ended with acid-rock riffs, it seems.

It’s the oddest thing, to feel that I’ve grown up right along a world-famous rock band.  Though I know very little of the conventions of rock star life, or even staying up past 11 pm, last Sunday night Mr Kiedis had me convinced that we are on the same team after all.   As disparate as they are, the vagaries of a life well-lived have been kind to us both. 

I will remember this show as a musical best – full and resonant and better than any recorded studio cut, complementing but not overwhelming the musicality of RHCP’s hallmark sound.  The show overran with well-planned touches which warms your heart when you realize rock music is sometimes less about heroin and more about customer service.  I’m thoroughly convinced that after 15 years of extensive concert attendance, I will never witness a better production than Sunday’s cold open into Can’t Stop.  This is what an extraordinary evening with live music should be – a reunion with a rowdy friend, graced by a soupcon of drama, who isn’t at all bothered that they didn’t play your favorite song.
Mr Kiedis, though not so long ago you were shooting up under a bridge while we too were making believe, it turns out we are all going to be okay.  Thank you for taking us back – unforgettably - to the place we love.