San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Red Hot Chili Peppers bring the picante to Costa Rica

View a slideshow of the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert here.

Flea’s purple hair glowed as he violently strummed his bass guitar and gyrated across the stage. Tattooed Anthony Kiedis threw punches in the air, stripped off his tank-top and belted out hits from three different decades. Chad Smith, wearing a backwards red cap and earrings, pounded the drums and kept hurling drumsticks into the crowd.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers gave Costa Rica what was expected of the iconic California-based group that for more than 20 years has been funk rock stars. Playing in front of a crowd of thousands of young, black-clad fans Monday night at the National Stadium in La Sabana in west San José, the Chili Peppers played a 20-song set that included classics such as “Under the Bridge”, “Can’t Stop,” “Soul to Squeeze,” “Californication,” and “Give it Away.” 

Despite drizzle prior to the concert and fans cloaking themselves in ponchos, the rain cleared and the foursome appeared, strolling out onto the stage and opening with some shouts of “Buenas noches” and the song “Monarchy of Roses” from their new album “I’m With You,” which debuted in August.

The somewhat tepid intro, void of fireworks, a curtain drop, a dim-the-lights build-up or even the almost obligatory “Pura Vida Costa Rica” shout, set the stage for a somewhat unspectacular performance from the merry pranksters, whom, with the exception of baby-faced guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, are each pushing 50. It appears the west coast wild boys, who cultivated their mischievous reputation by performing in tube socks that shielded their private parts are a far cry from their rambunctious days of old.

But where showmanship lacked, classic tracks served to keep the crowd enthused throughout the near two-hour performance. The second song, for example, “All for You”, opened with its celebrated riff and united the crowd with the sing-a-long howling verse of “Ten more reasons why I need somebody newww, just like youuu.” 

Weaving in the songs like “Otherside” that brought them international fame with new, still somewhat unfamiliar songs from “I’m With You” set the script for the night. Between songs, Flea chirped remarks to the crowd in broken Spanish and Kiedis jokingly thanked China for the National Stadium. 

To close the set, the Chili Peppers strummed “Higher Ground”, “Californication”, and cut the lights after “By the Way.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2

Bassist Flea jams with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith.

Alberto Font

As the clock neared 11 p.m., fans chanted “OtraOtra!” and summoned the return of the 7-time Grammy winners. For the encore, Smith blasted out a solo and the group launched into “Give it Away”, perhaps their most famous tune and one representative of the catchy, simple, disjointed rat-a-tat lyrics, swooping guitar riffs and high octane pace that made the Red Hot Chili Peppers into a smash success.

The song, which was a hit from the renowned “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik” album in 1991, opens with the near-Gibberish verse of “What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mamma, What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your pappa, What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter, You do a little dance and then you drink a little water.”

It’s a far from cry from poetry or eloquence, but it worked Monday night as it always has. Though the snarling, gnarly group from California might lack some of the brass that brought them acclaim, they still know how to send a crowd home happy.

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