04.08.23 – Photos by Max Trelstad / Review by McKenna Klaphake
Minneapolis Lens, a newly created publication, received the opportunity of a lifetime; the chance to cover the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at the U.S. Bank Stadium. On Saturday, April 8th I anxiously arrived at the 73,000 person venue in a dream-like state. This was my first concert at this venue and despite hearing negative reviews prior to the show, I was excited at the prospect of watching not only one of the worlds most influential bands, but also openers, King Princess and The Strokes.
As someone who is used to attending shows at much smaller capacity venues like First Avenue and The Turf Club, I was overwhelmed by the towering skyscraper that is the U.S. Bank Stadium. After awkwardly making my way through the main floor, I finally found the escalator that took me down to the first level seats. Navigating my way through the already busy hallways became an idea of the past as soon as I made it to the club level. In stark contrast to the upstairs levels, the floor was nearly empty prior to the first opener. I arrived with enough time to buy an overpriced drink and settle into my seat before King Princess began the night of musical excellence.
King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) proved that the future of pop/rock music is in good hands. In their short 30 minute set, the singer-songwriter played a wide cross-section of their released music including songs from their 2022 album release, “Hold On Baby.” King Princess was supported by a full band while also shredding away on the acoustic and electric guitar. The artist created an almost spiritual experience as their smooth vocals echoed through the building like one would find in a church. And for many gen-z folk, King Princess has become a holy figure.
King Princess throws societal expectations out the window. Their stage name itself presents the clear image that they are going for; they don’t reside on either side of the illusive gender binary but float freely between masculine and feminine. Their more masculine presenting image at Saturday’s show was a stark contrast to their seductive and velvety vocals. This is one of the reasons for why King Princess has become such a queer icon. They performed the songs “1950” and recent release “The Bend” which tell of both happy and sad queer love experiences. King Princess writes songs by and for queer folk while also showing that gender identity and expression is fluid. What could be more rock and roll than that?
King Princess demonstrated that they truly are a rockstar. As the sun set on the stadium, they finished with their track, “Ohio” which started off slow before quickly shifting to a fast paced song that had the audience fired up for the rest of the night!
As more concert-goers filed in, Y2K rock band, The Strokes took to the stage. While lead singer Julian Casablanca brought the same sound that has become recognizable, and loved, the highlight of the show was undoubtedly lead guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr. The fast paced and upbeat riffs had my eyes repeatedly drawn to him.
This could have also been due to Casablanca’s arrogant and juvenile attitude shown on stage. The lead singer mumbled incoherently in between songs and even got into a verbal tiff with an audience member yelling, “man, fuck you”, “where are you from?”, and “you hit me on the wrong day.” You would think that after many years of experience with touring and performing, the lead singer would let comments from the crowd roll off his back, especially when performing in front of a crowd as large as the U.S. Bank. But another side of the artist was shown when they brought out a birthday cake for guitarist Hammond. However, Casablanca then proceeded to perform one of the most depressing bouts of “Happy Birthday” that I have ever heard.
They played fan favorites like, “The Adults Are Talking”, “Someday” and “You Only Live Once.” The early 2000’s indie rock sound that fans have loved for decades was still apparent in their performance. The screen behind the performers displayed beautiful and illustrative images which went with the flashing light show. This ultimately was a preview for the engaging visual effects to come. While the performance was really great overall, it is unfortunate that the behavior from the lead singer distracted from that.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been bringing in fans from all backgrounds since their creation in 1982. For a band full of musicians that now find themselves in their late 50’s and early 60’s, they brought the same amount of fierce energy that has always been part of their image. The show started with an orchestral swell and an instrumental song with bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist John Frusciante. The seemingly improvised jam session highlighted the immense musical talent among the three band members. After about five minutes of playing from some of the world’s greatest musicians, lead singer Anthony Kiedis ran on stage in a bright red fishnet top and black shorts. The singer also seemed to have a medical boot on one leg and a compression style brace on the other. I can only assume that after decades of jumping and moving around as much as the band did on Saturday night, that it takes an immense toll on their bodies. Kiedis and the rest of the band proved that they can still keep up with the rapid fire lyrics and beats that they are known for.
The obvious highlight, to any RHCP show, was bassist Flea, who entered the stage literally walking on his hands. For an instrument that usually just has musicians nodding along to the beat, Flea brought the most energy to the bass guitar that I have ever seen. Adorned in purple and gold matching socks and skirt, the shirtless musician whipped his head back and forth in a way that gave the impression that he was flipping his hair, despite clearly being bald. He was also the only member of the band to utilize the small platform off to the right of the main stage. I have always known that Flea was a talented musician, but to see him play live was something otherworldly.
Despite presenting a duller appearance than the rest of the brightly colored and energetic band, guitarist John Frusciante wailed skillfully away to RHCP’s most recognizable riffs in fan favorites like, “Dani California”, “Otherside”, and “Californication.” Frusciante even sang a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. The audience was filled with passionate fans of the RHCP’s who seemed to know exactly what song was about to be played after hearing a single chord.
The visual effects made up for the less than stellar acoustics. The giant screens wrapped around the stage on all sides. The trippy and psychedelic images filtered the video feedback and gave an “Alice in Wonderland” type of effect to each song. It ultimately added to the laidback and groovy California vibe that is the kind of music that the RHCP’s play.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers saved two of their most popular songs for their encore performances. The room lit up in phone flashlights to the song “Under the Bridge” which was then followed by my personal favorite song, “Give it Away.”
Flea said it best, “We are here together. This is what love is. This is what it fucking is.” Love and gratitude that the RHCP’s displayed for their fans was mirrored right back to them on Saturday night. Despite the bias that many have against the quality of concerts at the U.S. Bank Stadium, fans from all over (a sign from the pit read, “I drove from Detroit for this”) congregated to see this legendary band play. The Red Hot Chili Peppers confirmed that they still have the star quality that fans have loved from the beginning.