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The Mars Volta, Red Hot Chili Peppers,

Tuesday, August 15, Taco Bell Arena

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When MTV was still young, so was I and so were the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their self-titled 1984 release was one of the best albums I'd ever heard. I was heavily into punk at the time, but I would go home, take the safety pins out of my cheeks and secretly listen to R&B and funk. The Chili Peppers were such a brilliant blend of punk and funk that I didn't have to hide them from my mohawk-wearing friends for long and we included the band in the soundtrack to our angst-ridden lives. Twenty years later, I'm a nostalgic fool and when I heard the Chili Peppers were coming to town, I thought, "If nothing else, I'll get to re-live a little childhood." I was so pleased to discover, though, that Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and John Frusciante have grown up, too.

The Mars Volta opened the show to mixed response. For as large as the arena is, there was a very comfortable, friendly feeling in the crowd, throughout the whole arena, really, and more than one stranger asked me, "What is the name of this band?" and "Do you like them?" I've been listening to Frances the Mute, the Mars Volta's 2005 release for about a year now, and, yes, I like them very much. Their jazz- and Latin-influenced progressive/acid rock is interesting and exciting and hearing "The Widow" performed live gave me an adrenaline rush.

When the Chili Peppers took to the stage, the arena was full and I wished I had brought ear plugs to at least minimize the screaming crowd. But they did have reason to cheer. With moving TV screens set in front of rows and rows of horizontal light bars that changed color and went from the floor of the stage (behind the drum kit) to the ceiling, Flea's brightly patterned, body-hugging Spandex suit, Kiedis' ripped physique and boundless energy, Frusciante's intense guitar playing and sweet, high vocal harmonies, and Smith's relentless, spot-on drumming, it was a Disneyland of sight and sounds. It was truly an amazing show.

With their newest release, the two-disc Stadium Arcadium, the Chili Peppers flexed their musical might and expanded themselves lyrically to produce an album that is both new and fresh and still classic Chili Peppers. And seeing them in concert whether for the first time or the 10th, will bring a whole new appreciation for a band that's been around awhile.

--Amy Atkins

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