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Red Hot Chili Peppers

With Foo Fighters

By Naveen Sunkavally and Aaron Mihalik

After breaking out nearly ten years ago with their album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still breaking new ground with their most recent album Californication. The album has gone triple platinum, the single “Scar Tissue” took a Grammy for Best Rock Song, and the single “Other Side” is currently at the top of the Billboard Modern Rock charts for the eighth straight week.

Now combine the Peppers with the Foo Fighters -- another modern rock band coming off the successful album release There is Nothing Left to Lose -- and you’ve probably got the best summer concert possible this year (July 16 at the Tweeter Center). Don’t miss them.

The Peppers and Fighters tore the roof off the sold-out Mullins Center last Sunday, their seventh concert appearance in support of their albums. From the opening Foo Fighters song “Monkey Wrench” to the Peppers encore “Soul to Squeeze,” the concert was pure guitar rock and hardcore funk bliss.

The night began with the Muse, a trio of nearly 20 years from the United Kingdom, that sounded a lot like Radiohead with less melody. The performance suffered, as lead singer Matthew Bellamy could never quite really separate himself from Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. Although they played a variety of songs in their short set, most of them sounded way too distorted to be enjoyable in a concert environment.

Six Muse songs later, the Foo Fighters took the stage, and the difference between an opening-opening band and an opening band became all too clear. The Foo Fighter’s opening song, “Monkey Wrench,” brought the house down, and the usual radio favorites, including “This is a Call,” “I Stick Around,” “My Hero,” and “Everlong,” followed in quick succession. The highlight of the Foo Fighter set was the tender Dave Grohl solo “Big Me.”

It was somewhat surprising, however, that, for a band touring to support a new album, the Foo Fighters didn’t play much off There is Nothing Left to Lose -- only the radio songs “Learning to Fly” and “Stacked Actors.” Instead the set focused on the Fighter’s eponymous debut album, with decent songs like “Breakout,” “Alone + Easy Target,” “Weenie Beenie,” and “For All the Cows.”

For all the Foo Fighter’s crunchy wholesome modern rock riffs -- they were well worth the ticket price -- the Chili Peppers were the stars on Sunday. While the Fighters were enjoyable to watch performing on stage, the Peppers actually engaged the crowd, bringing them to their feet, making them dance, and making them sing. The Peppers’ opening song, “Around the World,” their second radio release off Californication, was better than the entire Foo Fighters set, and it set the stage for the rest of the night.

Instead of focusing on old material, the Peppers’ set focused primarily on material from Californication, sometimes giving the songs a completely new meaning and sound. For example, in their performance of “Other Side,” by far the best song of the night, John Frusciante’s supporting falsetto was brought out much more than it had been in the album. The crowd was singing through the entire song, from start to finish. Songs like “Right Time” and “Californication” and “Scar Tissue” were so good in concert that another immediate listening of Californication was mandatory. The Chili Peppers also played some older favorites, the highlights of which included the delicate “Soul to Squeeze,” and the blistering funk rock masterpieces “Give It Away” and “Suck My Kiss.”

The Peppers also were not afraid to delve into material from other bands. After all, Flea explained, for the first three years of their existence, the Peppers mainly played Top 40 songs. Accordingly, the Peppers paid tribute with a bit of Elton John, some David Bowie (“Five Years” off Ziggy Stardust), and some Led Zeppelin too. In covering, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” the Peppers gave it a whole new dimension, busting out into hardcore guitar funk in the harmony parts.

Perhaps the only down side of the Chili Peppers set was the lack of any pieces from One Hot Minute, the album before Californication. The apparent explanation is that Frusciante is not familiar with the material off One Hot Minute. Dave Navarro, currently working on a solo album, had written and played the guitar tracks to One Hot Minute while guitarist Frusciante had taken a leave because of a heroin addiction. Frusciante returned to the band after Navarro’s departure for Californication.

But that’s only a minor quibble, at best. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are awesome in concert, and the Foo Fighters aren’t too bad themselves. If you’re sticking around MIT this summer, be sure to catch them July 16 at the Tweeter Center.