The alt-rock veterans performed a career-spanning set to toast the Chicago fest's 25th anniversary

By Kevin O'Donnell
Updated July 31, 2016 at 02:55 PM EDT
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Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Samsung

“Long live Lollapalooza!”

That’s how Anthony Kiedis first addressed the crowd for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ headlining set at the annual Chicago festival on Saturday. The 53-year-old frontman had a reason to make the declaration: Since Perry Farrell launched the touring music circus in 1991, Lollapalooza has shaped modern festival culture in America more than any other summer event — and the Chili Peppers have taken part over the years. The group headlined in 1992, when Lollapalooza was still a road show, and in 2006, when it became an anchored weekend event in Chicago.

So for the group’s set at this year’s 25th anniversary weekend, Kiedis, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer delivered a career-spanning set to a totally packed crowd. After getting into the groove with some instrumental improv shortly after 8 p.m., the Chili Peppers ignited the field with their 2002 hit “Can’t Stop.” From there, they delivered a nonstop string of staples: “Dani California,” “Scar Tissue,” “Otherside,” “Californication,” and more. Their set was also laced with deeper cuts (the grinding porno-funk of “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”) along with newer material (“Dark Necessities”), all of which fit together seamlessly to create a funked-up, hour-and-a-half dance party on the field.

If you thought America couldn’t care less about the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2016, you’d be wrong. The group, who just released a new album, The Getaway, drew the most diverse crowd of the festival, from millennials to Gen X-ers, and the band’s set showed just how many radio hits they’ve had over the years. By contrast, RHCP’s peers Jane’s Addiction, who performed on the same stage just a few hours before, drew a crowd that skewed older and more mature (parents with babies in strollers were in abundance). Interestingly, Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, who had a five-year stint in RHCP in the mid-90s, didn’t make a cameo, but Flea did take a moment to honor their brothers. “It’s really nice to play with Jane’s again and hear those beautiful songs,” he said. “It’s nice to see the survivors.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik this year and the guys still look as energetic and sound as sharp as ever. Partial credit goes to newish guitarist Klinghoffer, 36, who replaced longtime guitarist John Frusciante in 2009; the 36-year-old nailed the complex riffs of classics like “Under the Bridge,” while also hitting the song’s demanding backing vocals. But Kiedis, Flea, and Smith also seem to genuinely enjoy the rush of performing after all these years. Throughout the night, they’d flail and sprint and pogo jump all over the place. When they returned for an encore, Flea did so by way of a handstand crawl. Perhaps the bassist summed up the mood of the night best midway through the set: “Hey, this is f—ing fun! I’m having a good f—ing time up where! Wooooooooooo!”

Setlist

Can’t Stop

Dani California

Scar Tissue

Dark Necessities

Snow ((Hey Oh))

Look Around

Otherside

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Go Robot

Californication

Parallel Universe

The Getaway

I Would For You

Under the Bridge

By the Way

Encore

Goodbye Angels

Give It Away

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