ACL Fest 2022 – Red Hot Chili Peppers: California genius or affront to ACL fans? Writers Go Pro/Con At RHCP’s Third ACL Fest In A Decade – Music


RHCP at ACL in 2017 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

PRO: Returning guitarist John Frusciante transforms

The third time is the charm? After headlining the ACL Fest in 2012 and 2017, the five-year-old Red Hot Chili Peppers option offers a Sunday slot that’s sure to wipe the Los Angelenos’ previous two appearances from the ledger of the capital of live music. Only Zilker standing since the return of guitarist John Frusciante in 2019, in a historically Southern Californian sense, is equivalent to attending the Beach Boys with Brian Wilson or Fleetwood Mac behind Lindsey Buckingham.

“If victim of heroin [Hillel] The Slovak was the Brian Jones of the band, Frusciante is their Jimi Hendrix,” explained the the Chronicle in 2003 after meeting the band in a thunderstorm outside San Antonio. “Last year was insidious By the way [is] peppers animal sounds, Frusciante the ghost in the machine of every RHCP album that matters. Just like his debut on Breastmilk put down the lactose for Sex Magik Blood Sugarhis return for 1999 Californication omens By the way.”

Frusciante told me, in person, the following year: “It was towards the very end of [By the Way] that I entered an obsessive period about the Beach Boys. While I was making the record, it was more The Beatles, Erasure, Queen.”

Fab Four dappled tones this year Unlimited lovefirst LP RHCP with Frusciante since 2006 double album Stadium Arcadium. Every touch of the guitarist lays Malibu melodies over Ventura grooves. Rick Rubin’s return also portends another new album this month, The return of the dream canteen.

“It’s just a chemistry that’s there,” Frusciante shrugged in 2004 of Anthony Kiedis, Flea and alternative rock Bonham Chad Smith. “Playing with them every day inspires[s] me.” –Raoul Hernandez

CON: Repeat booking an affront to ACL enthusiasts

I reject the idea that the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining the ACL Fest three times in 10 years is anything but an affront to the perceived tastes of the people of Austin. This town is full of people with deep and adventurous musical tastes, but even for the general population that only goes to five shows a year, one of them being ACL, I’d like to throw them a bone and assume that ‘they don’t drool fools only excited about Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and RHCP.

I’m afraid that’s how Live Nation bookers perceive the annual Zilker’s rock slot audience. Need a Gen X base product? Give us Rage Against the Machine. Rock radio band? And Maneskin? For a band to need to headline three times in a decade, they would have to be the greatest of all time. I’m happy to explain why Chili Peppers aren’t that.

Anthony Kiedis’ clunky delivery — especially on the RHCP verses — can be cheesy as hell. Human voice prosody is best as a complementary layer on top of what’s happening musically, but Kiedis’ funk rap verses frequently pile on top of any phrase the bass or guitar repeats rather without grace.

Now, I’ll freely admit that the mustachioed singer has a fun presence and has penned over a dozen brilliant choruses. I’m also going to highlight John Frusciante’s electronic albums and say that Flea is one of the most cheerful and loving instrumentalists in popular music. None of this compensates for the evidence that, since 2002By the wayRHCP’s increasingly auto-tuned songs sound like they’ve been generated by an artificial intelligence music program called Bing Bong California.– Kevin Curtin

Hot red peppers

Sunday, 8 p.m., American Express stage
Simultaneous Alternate: Kacey Musgraves

A version of this article appeared in print on October 7, 2022 with the title: Sunday Headliner Head-to-Head: Red Hot Chili Peppers


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