Annette and Will and I went and saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers on June 1 and then Annette and I saw Radiohead just this past Monday. Besides putting me way WAY over my usual “one big arena rock show every two or so years,” I thought I would do a little comparison/contrast.
Who/what kind of music:
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Post punk funk pop music, heavily influenced and identified with Los Angeles, CA. They’ve been around since 1983 or so, meaning they are my age or older– well, the original members are at least since there has been quite a bit of rotation with a brand new guitar player in his thirties. They just got into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, too.
Radiohead: British quasi-pop alternative rock, eclectic and sometimes “difficult listening music” with lots of electronic and experimental music influences. Cerebral lyrics and complex sounds ranging from really loud to really quiet, often within the same song. A little younger, but not much– early 40s.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Shirtless and/or baggy shirts with pants that inexplicably had one leg cut short with colorful soccer socks. Much running about, jumping, leaning against each other, dancing around, etc. Chatty with the crowd and jam playing between songs.
Radiohead: Jeans and shirts– could have been a bunch of GAs. Standing and playing, save for Thom Yorke’s twitchy dancing. Not a lot of talking and it seemed like they had to completely rearrange the stage and every instrument between every song.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: White, mostly middle class, and a variety of ages– Annette and I were fairly close to the middle of the age demographic, though there were plenty of college kids and even kids Will’s age. In my view, a sprinkling of frat boy and/or hard rock kinds of folks.
Radiohead: VERY white, which I found striking from our seats looking at the “festival seating/standing only” floor. More college-aged– Annette and I were a bit more on the older side, though not by much. Annette said she hadn’t seen this many “geeky white boys” at a show in a long long time.
One of those not new (but new to me) web sites is setlist.fm, which is “the setlist wiki.” So, want to know what they played?
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Lots from the new album, but also lots of “greatest hits.” Looks like they pretty much play the same list pretty much every night. One encore.
Radiohead: Lots from the new album, lots of older songs and a number of kind of obscure songs, too. To the extent that they have “hits,” I guess they played them, though I personally was disappointed that they didn’t play more from In Rainbows. They appear to mix up the song order and choices a lot and even played a brand-new song in the first encore (they always do two) that they premiered the previous night.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Very elaborate light show with lots of moving parts and a big screen that showed a lot of narrative-like movies/images accompanying specific songs. Loud, of course.
Radiohead: Very elaborate light show with lots of moving parts, though a lot more abstract, which makes sense given the more varied setlist. Loud, of course, with bass that made my fillings rumble.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Joe Louis Arena, which is both conveniently and inconveniently located in downtown Detroit. Home of the Redwings, which is pretty obvious no matter what direction you’re looking in that building. It’s old with dubious bathrooms and crowded walkways outside the actual arena. I thought we were going to get crushed by the crowd surge on the way out of the show. We were stuck in the parking deck for close to an hour.
Radiohead: The Palace of Auburn Hills, which is both conveniently and inconveniently located far north of Detroit. It’s about an hour away from us, and the easiest way to get there was to actually drive downtown first and then get on 75 north. ”State of the art” pro basketball facility (the Pistons) with grand walkways and elaborate restaurants and bars outside the actual arena. Huge parking lot (and not a parking deck), which really worked out well for us: we saw this show on a Monday before Annette was going to Boston and I had to teach, so getting back home at 1 am was not an option. We left before the second encore, avoided the crowd, and whisked out of the parking lot and on to the interstate. We were well on the road before the show was over.
And thus ends big expensive shows for a while. I would have liked to have gone to Deathcab for Cutie (they are going to be in the area in July), but these concerts and the kitchen budget are probably going to prevent that.