Red Hot Chili Peppers Brought the Funky Ruckus to Miami

"I went to the beach and swam with the jellyfish 'cause I didn’t give a fuck," a shirtless, off-key Flea crooned into the microphone during an impromptu song he seemingly made up on the spot just for the American Airlines Arena crowd. It was at once an homage to Miami's beautiful beaches and a way to get the crowd loosened up. And between that weird improvised song and the rest of the concert Saturday night, one thing was made clear: The Red Hot Chili Peppers remain the undisputed kings of indefatigable kinetic funk rock. Even after decades of pounding out their funky bulldozer style of hard rock, the RHCP can still bring the ruckus.

The band kicked off the evening with a brief jam session featuring the dynamic backbeat of Flea and drummer Chad Smith, while guitarist Josh Klinghoffer shredded alongside them. The jamming continued for a good three minutes before things kicked into gear when, emerging from the blackness like a white rabbit jacked up on Red Bull, Anthony Kiedis hopped onstage and ran toward a center-stage microphone to belt out the opening lyrics to “Can’t Stop.”

"Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig," Kiedis cried out. "Can't top, he says I'm gonna win big." The crowd, awash in red and white lights, fervently sang along, while Flea leaped and gyrated with his custom-made L.A. Lakers bass guitar in tow.
Photo by George Martinez
The show including whirring, shimmering lights that oscillated and glowed white, red, or blue during each song and seemed to move like waves. It was a mesmerizing optical display that perfectly blended the mood of each song with that of the crowd. A glance at attendees' photos on Instagram indicates that the moving lamps were a highlight of the show.

But as it has always gone with the Chili Peppers, the stage belonged to Flea and Kiedis. For all of his craziness, Flea remains a staggeringly talented artist. He’s a virtuoso on the bass, thundering away on each song so flawlessly that one forgets just how technically sound he is. Behind the dyed hair and shirtless L.A.-hobo-chic, the man is unrivaled when it comes to an instrument most casual music fans take for granted. But Flea’s ability on the bass is so devastatingly apparent the band had to bring out a second bassist just to make sure the songs kept in time as Flea wailed about on his own. As for Kiedis, he remains aloof but still has a commanding presence that makes him the untouchable frontman that he is. Kiedis can still belt out those rap-rock tongue twisters like a master, and his energy is so infectious it fuels the rest of the band. When you attend a RHCP show, you expect to see these frenzied two do their thing onstage, hopping and running circles around each other as they rattle the walls with their songs. They did not disappoint.
Photo by George Martinez
If there's one complaint about the Chili Peppers' performance Saturday night, it’s that the band remains somewhat disengaged with its audience. Aside from Flea's brief song about swimming with the jellyfish, and telling the crowd that the U.S. government needs a Department of Peace, the band didn’t do much talking to the people. The Chili Peppers' reputation for not fully engaging with fans over the years is well earned. They’ve always been known to just get to the songs and then get off the stage. But it’s a minor gripe, and one Miamians didn’t seem to mind as they cheered and sang along to old favorites such as "Scar Tissue" and "Californication." The boys also performed a couple of cuts from their latest album, 2016’s The Getaway: "Dark Necessities" and the catchy "Go Robot." And, as if they read New Times' ode to Stadium Arcadium, the guys launched into flawless renditions of "Snow (Hey Oh)," "Tell Me Baby," and "Hey."

There was never a lull in Saturday night’s show. The concert deviated very little from the tried-and-true course: tireless energy and pushing the limits of the decibel levels. As the boys bounced from song to song, they occasionally grooved into a hot and heavy jam session, with Flea slapping his bass and running from one side of the stage to the other. Ever the spark plug, he kept jerking his head so violently it looked as if it would become detached at any moment. Kiedis, meanwhile, rivaled his bandmate’s energy with his own frenzied gyrations, running in circles, and strutting around like a rooster on acid.
Photo by George Martinez
The one moment when the performance calmed a bit was during a brief but haunting rendition of Bob Dylan’s "You’re a Big Girl Now," performed solo by Klinghoffer. The Chili Peppers also dipped into deep-cut territory with a rendition of "Right on Time" from Californication and “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” from 2011's I’m With You.

But the evening belonged to the fan favorites, and RHCP did not disappoint, belting out songs such as “By the Way,” “Under the Bridge,” and “Give It Away.” They brought the house down with the heavy-bass-laden, guitar-meltdown classic “Higher Ground,” the band’s famous rendition of the old Stevie Wonder hit.

The night featured a heavy blitz of ear-drum-splitting classics to go along with the fantastical light show that accompanied each song. Where the Red Hot Chili Peppers lacked in artist-fan decorum, they more than made up for with sheer aggression and patented unwavering energy. Even after touring for more than 30 years, the band’s ability to bring a thunderous, near-reverential sonic boom of deafening funkadelics remains intact.
Photo by George Martinez
Set list:
- Intro
- "Can’t Stop"
- "Snow (Hey Oh)"
- "Scar Tissue"
- "Dark Necessities"
- "Hey"
- "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (The Stooges cover)
- "Right on Time"
- "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie"
- "Go Robot"
- "Californication"
-  "You’re a Big Girl Now"  (Bob Dylan cover)
- "Tell Me Baby"
- "Encore"
- "Higher Ground" (Stevie Wonder cover)
- "Under the Bridge"
- "By the Way"

- "Goodbye Angels"
- "Give It Away"
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Chris Joseph