Red Hot Chili Peppers Take Victory Lap at Toyota Center

Red Hot Chili Peppers Take Victory Lap at Toyota Center
Violeta Alvarez
click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Toyota Center
January 7, 2017

At this point, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' success feels like a foregone conclusion.

In 2016, the California quartet released its first album in five years – its 11th in the band's 32-year career – to worldwide commercial success, despite a fairly tepid response from critics.

The Getaway – the band's first album not produced by Rick Rubin since 1989 – debuted at No. 1 in ten different countries, making it the Chili Peppers' seventh consecutive release to debut in the Billboard 200’s top five.

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
So it should come as no surprise that Houston fans packed Toyota Center to the rafters for the iconic rock outfit’s performance Saturday night. Drinks were flowing, the crowd was hyped and the evening’s entertainers were in good spirits from the get-go.

Veteran bassist Flea, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith treated fans to a jam session to begin their set. As it ended, vocalist Anthony Kiedis emerged onstage, and screams from the crowd drowned out Flea’s bass, which was still echoing through the amphitheater.

Before fans had a chance to breathe, the band broke out into “Around the World,” the lead single off their most successful album to date, 1999’s Californication.

The Chili Peppers didn’t let up from there on, performing cuts from almost every album they’ve recorded during their extended tenure in music, all the way back to 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan.

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
More than anything else, Saturday night felt like a victory lap for the California rockers, whose standing in the music community was solidified in 2012 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And with as much experience and success as they've had, the Chili Peppers weren’t without a few nuggets of wisdom. Shortly after “Soul to Squeeze,” an earnest Flea addressed the crowd, greeting longtime fans and delivering a message to any adolescents who might be in the crowd, perhaps attending their first concert.

“Pick up an instrument,” he implored them. “Paint something, write something…it’s our job to shine some light on the good in the world. So get to it, you little rascals!”

But the evening wasn’t without its disappointments either. In order to make room for some newer tracks, the Chili Peppers had to trim a few prominent songs from their set list, notably “Otherside,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Parallel Universe” and “Under the Bridge.”

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
“Dark Necessities,” the lead single from The Getaway, deserved inclusion. It’s a quintessential Chili Peppers track, chock-full of funky-Flea bass lines as Kiedis ruminates on his former demons, sliding his voice around like a steel guitar.

The rest of the newer tracks – “Go Robot,” “Sick Love,” “Dreams of a Samurai” and Goodbye Angels” – could have been abandoned for the aforementioned classics. Even so, the Chili Peppers performed enough hits Saturday night to satisfy even the most zealous of fans.

And when a Chili Peppers show concludes with the official anthem of Galveston Island followed by the catchiest song ever written about altruism, it’s hard not to leave feeling as if you made it to the moon, even if you had to crawl for a bit.

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
Intro/Jam Session
Around the World
Snow (Hey Oh)
Scar Tissue
Dark Necessities
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Me & My Friends
Go Robot
What Is Soul? (Funkadelic cover)
Sick Love
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
Dreams of a Samurai
Soul to Squeeze
By the Way

Galveston (Glen Campbell cover)
Goodbye Angels
Give It Away
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever