Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Red Hot Chili Peppers @ The Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PA 5/11/12

I have a friend that is in the business.  I've known her since High School.  I try not to ask her for tickets because, well...I don't want her to think that that's what our friendship is about.  Occasionally I will ask. Madonna was coming to town and my wife is a big fan.  I had sent her an e-mail to ask if she could help me get tickets to the show.  She let me know that due to the nature of high priced ticket show like hers that it is hard to get tickets...BUT...she wanted to know if I wanted to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Ummmm...OF COURSE I WANT TO SEE THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS!!!  She had worked with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer previously and and had asked if any of her friends in the Philly area had wanted tickets to the show.  I was super excited.  She was planning on flying in for the show to see it with me and her family.  This was going to be epic.



I had seen them when they headlined Lollapalooza '92.  This was at Montage Mountain in PA.  It was when they were at the height of their career, and Kiedis was at the height of his drug use.  Lets face it, as the night went on my recollections became fuzzier and fuzzier.  It was a wild time and I was at a wild age.



I was looking forward to seeing them again when they are machines as musicians and after their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  They were supporting their new release, I'm With You.


In preparation I listened to the new disc over and over.  I was enjoying the 70's vibe that Josh was bringing to it.  I also read Scar Tissue.  It is an autobiography by Anthony Kiedis.  It is a no apologies tell all about the formation of the band and his many battles with drug use.


The day before the show my friend phoned me to say that she was not going to be able to make it.  Work was pulling her in a different direction.  I was bummed.  She was going to leave tickets at the box office for me.  I was still excited to go and the big mystery was what type of seats was I going to get for the concert.

We arrived early for the show so that we could have a beer or two in the parking lot and not pay the heavy venue pricing.  I really wanted to see the opening act, Sleigh Bells, so we chugged a few and waled over to the box office.

I went in and showed my ID.  While I was waiting for my tickets there seemed to be some confusion and then finally they handed me a large envelope.  Now I was a little confused.  I said thank you and walked outside.  When I opened the envelope I could not believe my eyes.


All Access Backstage Passes and ticket on the floor behind the Sound Board.  YES!!!  I've had backstage passes before...but never all access.  My friend had really hooked me up.  Very excited, I made my way to the VIP entrance.

We entered the Wells Fargo Center, which is the large arena that both the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76er's play in.  It is a big venue, which I am not particularly fond of , but I am interested to see how the Peppers turn in into an intimate performance.  The funny thing is that once we got inside we have no clue what to do.  I had the pass around my neck and tucked in my shirt for safe keeping.  We went to the first security guard, pulled it out, and asked what we could do with it.  He pointed me towards the VIP entrance.  We followed it downstairs to the VIP lounge.  We grabbed a beer, kicking ourselves that had we known we would have skipped drinking in the parking lot.  We grabbed some food and started talking to others in the lounge trying to figure out how they had managed to get their passes.  It was mainly the same story, distant relative, contests won, and friends of friends.  I wanted to catch Sleigh Bells so we went back upstairs.

We went to the concession stand and purchased our shirts. This is always a must now that I regret not having my tour shirts from my younger days.  They now get worn sparingly. We then headed to our seats.

They were located one row off of the floor directly in the back behind the sound man.  We were high enough to see over top with no visual obstructions.  It is said the the sound is the best here.  I was curious how a two piece like Sleigh Bells could make a venue like this intimate like the small clubs they played.  I learned they did it will a wall of speakers, a wall of light, and a lot of fuzz.


I love Sleigh Bells and they did not disappoint.  They were touring supporting their second album but I still prefer their first.


We went back downstairs after the opening act to get another drink but learned the the food and drink was gone.  A security guard came up to me at that point and told me that there was still beer in the friends and family lounge and my badge granted me access.  What?  Why hadn't I known this?  Why was I wasting my time here?  I asked where it was and it was right next door.  We walked around the corner to a much smaller room and immediately a woman at a table asked us what we had bought.  We showed our concert shirts and she asked where we bought them, which I thought was weird.  We then asked how she knew the band and she said that she was Chad Smith's wife.  They have a house in Long Island and her and her son were catching what shows they could that were local.  It all seemed surreal.  We new that the show was starting so we hurried back out to our seats.

We were treated to an energetic show.  The band sounded great.  They are all fantastic musicians in their own right.  Josh was doing an incredible job replacing John Frusciante.


Flea and Josh seemed to feed off of each other.  Their set was willed with classics and hits from the new disc.


They took breaks which were filled will musical jams.  Whether it be drums and percussions or guitar and bass.  You were able to get a sense of just how good they were as musicians.  During one Flea walked across the stage on his hands.  Anthony's vocals were spot on as well.  They thanked the audience on multiple occasions.  This was a great show.


The encore was killer including 'Suck My Kiss' and 'Give It Away'.  I found myself in love with the Chili Peppers again. The great thing that they do is sell recording of every live performance online.  They sound great and you can relive the performance.

Afterwards we hurried back down stairs in hopes to meet the band.  I was hoping to get a picture or maybe even an autograph.  I had an excuse to talk to Josh.  My friend who got me backstage had asked me that if I got the opportunity to talk to him that I would tell him for her that she loves him.  But that posed an even bigger problem.  Then what?  If I were going to get the opportunity to speak to one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers what would I say?!?

Just then Josh appeared.  He came our riding on a bicycle.  It seemed as though he knew some of the people in the lounge and he was saying hello.  I didn't want to interrupt so I waited until he was done before I approached.  I quickly thought of a question to ask and then I walked over and gave him my friends message.  His face lit up.  "So you're her friend!  Were your seats ok?  Are you being taken care of?  Was everything good?"

Wait a second...I am standing here excited to meet of the the Red Hot Chili Peppers and here he is acting like he is here to see me.  That just speaks volumes about what type of person Josh is.  I figured that this was probably my only opportunity to ever interview a Chili Pepper so I asked him my question.  This is how it went.

Me, "Congratulations on becoming the youngest person ever inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame."
Josh responded bashfully, "Thank you."
Me, "You play guitar for the Chili Peppers replacing one of the best guitarists ever, you've played keyboards for Gnarls Barkley, you've played drums along with John Frusciante in the band Ataxia and in your band Dot Hacker you play everything.  You seem to play everything and well.  What would you say is your main instrument?"
Josh, "I still consider myself a drummer.  That was the first instrument I learned to play and I still identify with it."


There you have it.  My first interview with a Rock Star.  Afterwards we spoke about my kids how they play guitars and drums.  I had my photo taken with him and he signed my tour shirt.  At that point friends of family came up and he excused himself.


I can't believe that I was able to have a conversation with him.  He was very humble and great to talk to.  Chad Smith and his wife, Nancy, came out next.  She made sure that he came over to us and he signed autographs and snapped photos with us as well.


It was getting late and there was still no sign of Flea and Anthony.  Their head of security came out and we asked if we would see them.  He said that we was not sure as they were showering and eating.  We asked him to level with us.  We were only staying to see them and if they were not going to come out then we were going to leave.  He paused for a second and then said that they would not be coming out.  He said that Flea will occasionally come out but Anthony never does.  We thanked him and went on our way thrilled that we met half of the band.


On the way home it seemed surreal.  It still seems surreal.  It was one of the biggest musical nights of my life.  I still can't thank my friend enough.  It is the kind of musical experience that you can not even buy.  Hopefully, it will not be my last experience like this.  I have a blog to fill.

See you at the next show!

Fran


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