1990/06 Billboard


The Ritz, New York

LIKE PUBLIC Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers appear to want to do the right thing. It’s just that they keep sticking their feet in their mouths—or rather, their hands on their crotches. At this April 27 show, the Chili Peppers’ “testoste-rock” was repeatedly summed up in lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ gesture of machismo: hand-dive into fly, then fist-raise into air. It’s a move Kiedis copped from male rappers and its symbolism of male bonding (and female exclusion) helps explain the L.A. band’s appeal.

Its appeal is undeniable: The band sold out a two-night stand here and has sold more than 500,000 copies of its latest EMI album, “Mother’s Milk,” while its presence on the hit soundtrack for “Pretty Woman” has given the group further exposure still. EMI toned down some of the profanities on the lyric sheet of “Mother’s Milk.” But there was no covering up the sense of a song like “Sexy Mexican Maid,” with its racist and mysogynistic leanings. That cut was just one of the many sludge-funk numbers that had the mostly male, mostly white audience slamming; among other enlightening pieces was the anthemic “Party On Your Pussy.” At a previous stop on this tour in Florida, two band members were arrested for allegedly jumping off the stage and molesting a female fan. This night, fortunately, they kept their hands to themselves.

While rapping over a churning bass groove, covering Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, or mimicking B-boy antics, the band’s rhythms sounded bagged in taffy. Except for adroit bassist Flea, the musicianship was mediocre. On stage, the Chili Peppers looked like adolescents drunk on ego and hormones—running, tumbling, spitting, screaming, drinking, cursing, and, of course, grabbing their crotches. The band seems to get paid to act out its audience’s ids. Or is that idiocy?


Many thanks to Hamish at RHCP Sessions