Can’t Stop: Chili Peppers Show No Signs of Slowing Down on Unlimited Love Tour

On Sept. 3, 2022, I was one of roughly 42,000 people at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia who were transported to another universe by four fifty-something-year-old dudes who were truly meant to rock out together.

Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, “Flea” and Chad Smith — more commonly known as the Red Hot Chili Peppers — have the ability to form a life-force of energy, rhythm, melody, swagger and passion that can only be understood in person. I had the utmost privilege of witnessing their greatness during a night that I will not soon forget.

The self-proclaimed “Funky Monks” opened their hit-filled set with the bouncy, rock-rap anthem “Around the World,” the lead-off track from the band’s alt-rock masterpiece album “Californication.” My initial reaction: whooaaaaa. A ball of roaring, pulsating energy took over the ballpark. The whole crowd was entranced by the magic that was created on the stage. The sensation only grew stronger throughout the set, which deftly combined classics such as “Dani California,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Californication” and “Give it Away,” with newly popular songs from their 2022 album “Unlimited Love.” All of these tracks had been traveling through my headphones and into my ears since I was a kid; and in that moment, they felt like they had entered my bloodstream.

Describing exactly what it is like to watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform is a seemingly impossible task, but any attempt must include the breaking down of the band’s four irreplaceable parts. The band’s 1991 breakthrough album “Blood Sugar Sex Magiktitularly encapsulates each of the band’s elements of perfection. Drummer Chad Smith is the blood: he holds everything together. As a soft spoken percussionist, his raw power and rhythm on the kit is the glue of the band, and the backbone of its aura. Bassist and music icon “Flea” is the sugar. His ability to absolutely shred the bass is unmatched, and his energy and enthusiasm onstage is as vibrant as his musicianship. His melodic runs on the bass are one-of-a-kind (as is his bouncing around onstage and his impressive handstand he showed us that night), and this has provided the band with its trademark funkiness throughout the decades. Lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis is the sex: he is a macho man full of swagger and attitude, jumping around shirtless onstage, with an underrated voice and a unique lyrical style which energetically blends goofiness and profundity.

And then, there’s the magic. John Frusciante is a living, breathing guitar god. A master of his craft, Frusciante is a true virtuoso on any of his various guitars, and someone who never plays a solo the same way, show after show. He is an all-time great who continues to deliver emotionally scintillating riffs, downright funky rhythm playing and face-melting shreddage. He truly adds another dimension of musicianship to the band, and even took a few minutes during the set to sing and play a heartfelt solo rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” The whole crowd sang with him in unison, reveling in his musicality.

The band fed off the crowd’s energy the entire night, closing the show with the electric encores “Soul to Squeeze” and “By the Way.” At one point during the show, amidst the constant cheering from the crowd in between songs, Flea grabbed the microphone and summed it all up perfectly: “This is why we exist. Thank you.”

His words echoed throughout the ballpark, and still ring in my ears whenever I think back to that wonderful night.