Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gnarls Barkley

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been bragging about their wild-style freakitude for decades, but little speaks to the Peppers' belief in their own out-thereness like their current choice in opener: Gnarls Barkley, the eccentric electro-soul duo featuring DJ/producer Danger Mouse and former Goodie Mob frontman Cee-Lo.

No record in 2006 was more unique than Gnarls's St. Elsewhere, on which Cee-Lo sings beautifully about psychosis, suicide, and sex over Danger Mouse's tuneful chopup of hip-hop, funk, and art rock. And few albums were more celebrated: "Crazy," the CD's big single, has earned best-song honors in countless year-end polls, and it has helped convince a record biz in perpetual crisis that the cross-demographic smash isn't extinct. The duo and back-up band play all of their live shows in full costume — they've done Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and Sunset Strip hair metal themes, among many others — which provides a neat visual metaphor for Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo's shared taste for musically stylistic dressup. After nearly a year of touring, it'll be interesting to see how deep the inspiration well still runs.

The Chili Peppers have long displayed a fondness for costume as well — socks on cocks spring to mind, as do a set of flame-equipped construction-worker helmets. The rich creative stew of last year's double-disc Stadium Arcadium certainly provides the requisite inspiration for any wardrobe jump-off, but it also demonstrates how ably the band can rely upon its less outré knack for tuneful, funk-inflected alt-rock (especially when compared to the oddball brew of Gnarls's St. Elsewhere disc). Perhaps despite their best efforts, the Peppers have become what they once feared: a bunch of pros. — Mikael Wood


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