Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:18 PM
The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Mars Volta
The Arena at the Gwinnett Center - Atlanta, GA
26 October 2006
Alright, so one of my friends is a huge Chili Peppers fan, so he and I decided to buy tickets months ago - right around the time their album came out. We got awesome tickets on the floor for $90 a pop - originally we were taking my kid brother and another one of my buddies, but everyone ended up bailing at the last minute. It ended up being just me, my friend, and two extra tickets.
We took off down to Atlanta around lunch, made the 3-4 hour drive, and checked into our hotel. After spending a few hours settling in and... relaxing (not to mention laughing at the Mexican fellow who happened to be cutting the dirt outside our window with his lawnmower), we went down to the hotel lobby to catch the "shuttle" over. Luckily for us, at least from what I could gather from the barely-intelligible Indian fellow at the front desk, the shuttle was full and was already making its first run. Me and my friend were both pretty out of it at this point, and the guy assured us that the shuttle would be back soon, so we resigned ourselves to waiting, watching South Park and making jokes about some horrendously drunk fellow with a mullet making passes at the hotel staff on the other side of the room.
Not 10 minutes before the concert was scheduled to begin, our "shuttle" arrived. I always assumed shuttle meant one of those little short buses with an old man in a goofy suit driving, but this time it turned out to be a dingy van driven by an old (and very, very drunk) Ethiopian. Well, Ethiopian is just a guess, but he was very black and very difficult to understand. So my pal and I, in our rather inebriated state, decided on Ethiopia as his place of origin. And, seeing how incredibly safe our "shuttle" was, we of course jumped right in.
The ride over would've been horrifying had I been sober, but I vaguely remember it being a blast. It somewhat resembled a roller coster ride, really, with all the swerving and careening and a seat full of women screaming each time one of those swerves took us dangerously close to the path of another semi.
We were all so surprised and relieved to have made it to the concert that we didn't realize the crazy fellow had driven the wrong way down a one-way road to drop us off 10 minutes late at a very deserted section of the Arena. We all found the nearest door, which to our great surprise was most definitely locked. Turns out we were on the complete opposite side of the building from where we should've been, so we made the trek around and hopped into the security line. After taking my friend's belt and another 10 minutes of our time, the fellows at the door let us in. We were a good 20 minutes late and never had a chance to sell off those extra tickets, but at least we were alive.
Luckily for us, not a single sign in the building had the section number we were looking for. We wandered around the seats until we eventually found our way to the floor and our section. By then The Mars Volta was in full swing. And they stayed in full swing until they left the stage half an hour later. I really like their music, but I have to say their live show was a little too intense. It would've been much more enjoyable if they'd broken up their songs somewhat rather than playing them in one unending stream. I didn't recognize most of the tracks they played, but I'm not sure if that was because they're new tracks or because they didn't really play tracks - but I hear they've got a new album out that I haven't heard, so I suppose that was it. In any case, I didn't think their sound was anywhere near as good as it is on the albums, but all in all they put on a fairly good show.
After they went off, we got stuck with a half-hour intermission, which we very wisely used to stare at the man one row back who'd just managed to empty his stomach on the floor - well, him and the crazy Chilis fans milling around in costume. The most noticeable of these was a pair of Funky Monks - complete with brown habits and ridiculous hairstyles. What seemed like five minutes passed, and the lights went down again. The crowd roared as several silhouettes made their way onto the stage, but to our dismay the men we were cheering turned out to be more roadies checking equipment. We fell for that a good three times at least before our inebriated howls were rewarded with the real Red Hot Chili Peppers. By this point the arena was pretty much full.
The way they started their show was the high point of the night for me. They left their lights low and drug out the intro to Can't Stop, spurring the crowd into a frenzy. When they kicked into the song, the entire wall behind the stage and the ceiling lit up red. They had this awesome light show centered around a screen made of what looked like long flourescent lightbulbs covering the back wall, with four smaller (and more traditional) screens that could be moved around independently. I have to see if I can find a picture, because it was pure awesome. I think there are a few clips floating around YouTube also - search for Can't Stop and pick one of the ones with the red lights.
They nailed the song, of course, and went right into Dani California. By this point there was somebody pawing my shoulder - turns out some drunk guy and his girlfriend were trying to hop the chairs into the empty seats I had tickets for. While his girlfriend was busy trying to convince security that those actually were their seats, he kept trying to convince me to move over, first by explaining that I was in his seat and then by getting entirely too close to me. Luckily, as soon as the security guard left they scurried off to steal someone else's empty seats.
I don't have a set list handy, but they played quite a few of my favorites, including Give It Away, By the Way, Scar Tissue, Californication, a few other tracks from their new album, and even a Ramones cover. Frusciante did a little solo bit where he covered a U2 song that I can't remember the name of, and Flea snuck in quite a few solos while the band was taking breaks. The only remotely disappointing thing about the show was that he never took out his trumpet... at least not with the Chilis. I think he may have played a little in the dark with The Mars Volta earlier in the night.
They wrapped the show up after about 2 hours on stage, and we made our way through the crowds and around the building to the now-less-deserted area where that crazy cabbie dropped us off, and were very surprised when he actually picked us up. Luckily he didn't seem to have been hitting the booze since the ride over (I think all the bottles I heard rolling around in the back were there to start with), and he drove much safer... even to the extent of coming in the right direction. We heard him talking on his cell to what we thought was his mother. Turns out it was to a hot (and supremely drunk) law student who he picked up, along with an unfortunately male companion, on the way out. The poor guy almost had his leg slammed in the door by the angry traffic cops trying to rush our cab out of the way. Apparently he'd convinced the poor girl that he had already dropped us off, so she was rather surprised when she had to sit in the floor. I don't think her friend minded so much though, since he promptly leaned himself up against my leg. If I was any more sober, I might've had a problem with that, but I was content to laugh at their drunken antics. The girl kept complaining about how her phone (which I could've sworn was a camera) was out of batteries, and then proceeded to take pictures of everyone in the car. I should've been a little worried when the flash practically blinded the driver, but by that point we were too busy trying to get across to him that he had to go to two different hotels - by that time he'd forgotten about his first group of passengers completely.
We actually did make it back to the hotel alive, though I'm not sure Miss Law Student and crew met with as happy a fate. Being rather toasted still, and even more hungry, we decided to wander the streets of Atlanta (a feat that would certainly frighten a sober pair of unarmed white guys) in search of food. We thought briefly about checking out the fare at the restaurant across the street, but quickly decided that an all-night Chinese seafood buffet sounded a little too sketchy. We managed to stumble upon a Waffle House unscathed, and were even more surprised when we realized that our waitress was breaking the principle unspoken rule of Waffle House conduct by being reasonably attractive. Not that we minded, really. We spent a good hour enjoying the artery-clogging cuisine and discussing the concert with the other patrons, all of whom except the creepy old man in the corner had been with us at the show. My memory isn't too clear afterwards, but I'm pretty sure we managed to make it back to the hotel safely, because that's where we found ourselves in the morning. The drive back was crap thanks to the weather, but our good spirits endured thanks to the awesome show the night before.
I'm sure I went into entirely too much detail, but I got carried away. Sue me =P