Barack and Roll With The Red Hot Chili Peppers

A view of the campaign from the mosh pit

The Obama re-election campaign brought is famously-well organized operation to the House of Blues on Sunday morning to present a free concert by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The venue was filled to the brim with campaign volunteers eager to pump up the campaign, and pump their fists to the happy hardcore music of the newly-inducted Roach ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers.

Promotional videos emphasized the administration’s accomplishments in the face of daunting odds and dire consequences.  Neighborhood team leaders and statewide campaign staffers gave brief and respectful, no-BS speeches, pointing out that campaigns are not won by slick ads but by face-to face, neighbor-to-neighbor, word-of-mouth communication.  These folks are not “suits” in any sense of the word, and they walk the talk of bona-fide grassroots apostles.

For their part, the Chili Peppers hit the ground with all the professionalism you’d expect from the seasoned rock and roll road warriors that they are.  Never mind that just twelve hours earlier they closed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert with a raucous jam featuring three drummers, George Clinton, Ronnie Wood, Billy Joe Armstrong and Slash.  They delivered a rowdy, diverse set of crowd pleasing favorites – half the audience seemed to know all the words.  Drummer Chad Smith played like he hadn’t had a break from the previous night’s festivities, and didn’t need one.  Gangly guitarist Josh Klinghoffer brought all 30 of his effects pedals.

Gymnastic singer Anthony Kiedis, who belted out a full range of hard-hitters and ballads, had just a few choice words for the assembled believers:  “We’re so happy you’re here.  The world needs us to be decent citizens. So listen to Black Flag and go out and register voters.”  And the man known as Flea, the world’s most animated bass player, bopped from deep chunk funk to rippingly fast solos to smooth melodies without blinking an eye.

This was a rousing, head banging way to start a Sunday, and a fitting cap to two weeks of exceptional rock and roll moments across Cleveland.  These guys play with the energy of kids, but with the musical chops of the veteran musical athletes that they are.

At their Hall of Fame induction at Public Hall the night before, both Flea and Kiedis remarked that, after nearly 30 years as a band, they are just now starting get a handle on their craft, and they can’t wait to continue their work together and see where it takes them.  Supporters of the larger cause can hope that their rock star in the White House wakes up with a similar attitude about the future.


Review by Jordan Davis


Cool Cleveland has exclusive Red Hot Chili Pepper photos in our Flickr stream here and here.

View the Cool Cleveland Flickr stream for more Rock Hall photos here.

Watch Cool Cleveland video of Rock Hall festivities here.


Post categories:

Leave a Reply