Flea steals the show at the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Portland concert

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea at Lollapalooza in Chile, 2014. (Gonzalo Tello/Creative Commons)

The legendary Los Angeles-based group the Red Hot Chili Peppers are currently touring in support of their 11th studio album “The Gateway.” This is the second album that the band has released since guitarist Josh Klinghoffer replaced long-time member John Frusciante in 2009. Many fans worried that the band’s material would decline after Frusciante quit. That suspicion seemed to be confirmed when the Chili Pepper’s 2011 record “I’m With You” tanked in the charts.

The band took a five-year hiatus before releasing “The Gateway” last year, but the wait was well worth it. The band’s latest record shows a clear maturation of Klinghoffer’s musical style. His progression fits perfectly with the band’s new, more modern musical direction. The album topped the charts, finishing at number 2 on Billboard’s top 200, trailing only Drake’s album “Views.”

Former Chili Pepper and Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons and New Orleans-based jazz/funk group Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue opened the show. Shorty brought the crowd to their feet with his cover of Green Day’s “Maggot Brain.” His engaging, energetic performance ended just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Just 20 minutes after Shorty and his band left the stage, Chili Pepper drummer — and Will Ferrell look-alike — Chad Smith took the stage. The band’s percussionist was sporting his usual bright-red jumpsuit. World-renowned bassist Flea joined smith on stage along with Klinghoffer. The trio kicked off the show with an improvisational jam session.

Once their jam resolved, Smith started beating his drums with increasing speed and volume. Klinghoffer followed suit by teasing the intro riff to the band’s hyperactive-hit “Can’t Stop.”Just as Smith queued him to start singing, lead singer Anthony Kiedis danced on stage and grabbed the mic.

After cruising through their first three songs, the band finally addressed the crowd. “Hello, Portland. We’re happy you showed up.”  Kiedis Said, “Now let’s dance. Let’s dance! What the fuck!” This prompted Klinghoffer to start playing the intro from the album’s lead single “Dark Necessities.”

Throughout the night the entire band performed with full energy. Each member seemed genuinely excited to be there as if there was no other place they’d want to be than in Portland, Oregon on a rainy Wednesday night. While each member was on their A-game, Flea absolutely stole the show.

Although he only stands at 5 foot 6, Flea is truly larger than life. The way he aggressively plucks his instrument’s strings and holds its neck with such authority is unlike any other performer. When he settles the bass’s strap over his shoulder, it’s no longer an external entity. It becomes an extension of him, like a third arm or extra hand.

“Hello, Portland. We’re happy you showed up. Now let’s dance. Let’s dance! What the fuck!”

When the band finished their set with the title track off their 2001 album “By the Way” and Flea handed his bass to a stage tech, he looked naked without it. There has never been a man more destined to play the bass than this 54-year-old bald man with a gap in his front teeth.

The Chilies came out for a two-song encore shortly after finishing their initial set. While the rest of the band headed straight for the instruments, Flea reappeared on stage in a perfectly formed handstand. He then made his way across the entirety of the stage before dismounting to play the encore.

After the set was completely over and the band had left the stage, Flea thanked the audience in his usual Flea exuberance. “Peace and love,” he said. “Goodnight!”


“Intro Jam”

“Can’t Stop”

“Dani California” 

“Zephyr Song”

“Dark Necessities”

“She’s Only 18”

“Right on time”

“Go Robot”

“Flea and Josh Jam”


“The Longest Wave”

“Tell Me Baby”

“Dreams of a Samurai” 

“Suck my Kiss”

“Under the Bridge”

“By the way”


“Chad Drum solo”

“Goodbye Angels”

“Give it away”

Editor in Chief - Daily Emerald

Zach is the Editor in Chief of the Daily Emerald newsroom. In his spare time, he enjoys watching the Portland Trail Blazers games.

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