We got into this local corporate paradise with some time to spare and struggled to locate some decent beer. Settling for MGD, we settled in with about a quarter of the cavernous venue present before Sleigh Bells took to the stage.
Sleigh Bells are an outfit from Brooklyn with an unusual setup and an interesting backstory. The band consisted of one guy off to the side working a drum and bass machine and a singer. The touring configuration features two guitarists. The singer Alexis Krauss was a Rhodes scholar but decided to pursue music instead (WTF - the planet is apparently in dire need of indie rock).
The twin Jackson guitar attack looked especially menacing and were just a few shades warmer than a "metal" tone. (Sleigher ??). Krauss had a range of screams and a vaguely punk styling. She also had a nice pair of shorts that had Tuco mildly distracted. IKvsDK recognized some of the tracks and there were signs of appreciation in the sparsely populated Hanger including some people in the floor section getting up to dance.
The guitars went off stage after a few tracks leaving Krauss there to work alone with her compadre just off stage with a laptop. The ACC seems to have some other kind of sound system; it was difficult to match the sound with the four (or so) Marshall stacks on stage. The sound was good nonetheless.
Krauss took some speed off the tracks and tried out some slower stuff. The guitarists came back on and Krauss regalled the growing audience with the story of how RHCP chose them to open the gig. Krauss shed some layers and closed out the set. Amazingly, the venue didn't seem close to full. IKvsDK did some quick math and figured the crowd to be about five to six thousand. Well-hidden.
Intermission of a sort and Josh went off in search of good beer. More people in the seats now and the floor area security started to earn their paycheques. Josh returned empty-handed after getting some bad advice. I decided to try one last time but scrambled back when the crowd started cheering. It truly is a shame the ACC has gone with Molson and deprived concert-goers of some choice in refreshments.
By this time it was a few minutes past the 9pm. The ACC finally looked like it was full. (Aside: TFC were already down a goal.) The lights dimmed and Flea and Chad took the stage. New guitarist Josh Klinghoffer sauntered out and shortly after frontman Anthony Kiedis made the trek to the mic. Ladies and Gentlemen - the Red Hot Chili Peppers!
RHCP launched into Monarchy of Roses and everyone was on their feet. A great start and the crowd was into it. The first few songs were all hits and it gave Tuco a chance to take in the stage setup. Amazingly, the Red Hots had one rather garrish Marshall to the house right as a stage prop. Hiding behind this amp just off to the side of Chad was Mauro, a Brazillian percussionist who operated some other devices.
ACC Security were also cracking heads as they quickly converged on miscreants in the floor section. I guess that's the price one pays for floor - to be subject of such inordinate attention. One guy tried to do some crowd surfing, and made it a few rows back before being dropped and escorted out. The fellow that boosted him was gone too shortly after. Another pair of guys tried to take off their shirts and were confronted by ACC security to put those shirts back on which they dutifully did. Some of the crowd were jumping up and down too exhubirantly - fortunately, ACC security were there to save the day. All of this cracking down on those having fun meant plumes of cannabis smoke from some avid leaf worshippers went largely unnoticed.
Hovering over the band was a robot-controlled display with about six or eight display panels with various visuals on them. Some were prerecorded others were supplied by cutting in feeds from four cameras, each tracking a band member, onto the displays in alteration.
From our vantage point, we got a pretty good look at Josh Klinghoffer the guy recommended by the legend John Frusciante. Klinghoffer was really good. He's definitely got alot of the Frusciante sound but combines his own thing as well. It's speaks to the quality of RHCP's sound how important it was to get someone that could bring something close to what Frusciante brought. Not just in terms of chops but that intangible element (style?) that separates a guitarist from an icon. Yes, Frusciante deserves that kind of status at this point in the game. And Klinghoffer handled the scene admirably.
The Peppers continued playing though mostly newer material. Chad Smith kept throwing drumsticks out to the crowd - He must have gone through about 5 pairs during the evening. Tuco took in the stage while IKvsDK scoped the crowd. Quite a diverse audience
About midway were the two songs that got the best audience reactions - Higher Ground and Under the Bridge. The latter in particular was particularly electric as the crowd roared. Toronto audiences can be some of the lamest in the world so it was nice to hear one respond enthusiastically to a great tune.
Another few tracks and Kiedis bopped over stage left where his daughter was taking in the concert with a lightsabre. The display panels started showing some crowd shots which was basically an array of young ladies in the crowd. Got to hand it to the camerapeople - nice work. Just before intermission, Kiedis turned to the audience and apologized to someone in the front row about the possibly offensive language. RHCP went off the stage and IKvsDK checked the time/score - TFC had tied it up and we had about 25 minutes to go before the ACC-imposed curfew.
That apology for offensive language turned out to be harbinger of ultimate bawdiness as RHCP handstanded their way back on stage for the encore with my favourite RHCP song of all time, Sir Psycho Sexy.
Now I lay me down to sleep I
Pray the funk won't make me freaked
If I should die before I waked
Allow me Lord, to rock out naked
The sound people turned up the bass for Flea - I could feel it all the way in my duodenum. Josh Klinghoffer had donned a Leafs jersey, but amazingly this didn't blight his guitar work.
Last song was Give It Away and Flea finally came over to our side of the stage playing the bass on a track I tabbed in school. Nostalgia plateau. Flea is a Boss!
Here is the setlist courtesy of setlist.fm