If you can judge an audience’s excitement by the number of camera phones hoisted into the air, then two moments stand out for the Los Angeles event dubbed Malibu Love Sesh. First, was when Jack Black made a cameo in the middle of Beck’s set. The second was simply when headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers burst into “Californication.”
It was a proudly California affair, a benefit held Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium to benefit victims of the Woolsey Fire that swept through Malibu last November. At an event held at the nearby Sunset Gower Studios, speakers like California Senator Henry Stern and artist Shepard Fairey spoke about the need for action.
“We want California to become the first state in the country to officially declare a climate emergency and commit to mobilize its economy to it,” said Margaret Klein Salamon of the Climate Mobilization, who held the event in conjunction with the Malibu Foundation. “Why are we acting normal while this crisis is threatening us all? Why are we sleepwalking off of this cliff? Do we want to live or are we in the midst of some massive, unconscious suicide pact? It’s as if there’s a huge meteor plummeting towards earth that will destroy us all, but instead of sending Ben Affleck up there to deal with it, we’re ignoring it. We’re asleep.”
At the Palladium, opener St. Vincent performed an acoustic set featuring four songs from her wildly acclaimed pop record Masseduction and a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1992 single “Breaking the Girl,” which she said was one of the first songs she learned on guitar. Her reading gave the lyrics new power, foregrounding background vocal lines like “She meant you no harm.” “I wanna give a very special thank you to [RCHP guitarist] Josh Klinghoffer,” she said at its conclusion … for fucking bitching guitar playing, but also for correcting my chords just about 20 minutes ago.” Her originals steamed with new intensity too, as she played acoustic guitar with her thumb. The vocals in “Masseduction” moved from heroic to fragile, she hit a long note to conclude “Los Ageless” and inserted an aside in “New York”: “If I trade our ‘hood for some Hollywood,” she sang, then adding “… which I did.”
“We’re gonna celebrate Los Angeles a little bit tonight,” said locally grown Beck. “I can’t think of anybody more Los Angeles than Red Hot Chili Peppers. That’s my growing up in Los Angeles. That’s like the hometown band.” Beck churned through his catalog like mix between Jack White, David Bowie’s Young Americans period and Prince’s Revolution, his seven-piece party band rocking out and getting silly. Weird, post-modern songs like “Devil’s Haircut” and “E-Pro” were played with rock fury, and hearing a crowd sing “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me” is still weird, even after 25 years to dwell on the lyric. He also made sure to point out it was recorded “about 10 blocks away from here.” Special guest Jack Black started “Sexx Laws” as kind of a torch song duet with Beck, but it eventually got into its raunchy groove. At set’s end, Beck and his crew turned into a wild wedding band, stretching out the middle of “Where It’s At” to include flecks of party starters: Chic’s “Good Times,” the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” New Order’s “Blue Monday,” Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” Beck took a solo turn on his own “One Foot in the Grave” and Jack Black did a medley of classics by Los Angeles’ own the Doors: “The End,” “Touch Me” and “L.A. Woman.” After they finally burst back in the back end of “Where It’s At,” the band did choreographed slides like Morris Day and the Time.
“Hello, my homeland!” said RHCP bassist Flea with his typical enthusiasm. “Hello, my people! We prostrate ourselves, humble ourselves, I kiss all of your boots, I love you!” Red Hot Chili Peppers put on a no-nonsense show of material mostly culled from their last five albums, complete with wild psych solos from Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith bursting with fireworks. Though the band relies heavily on gentler hits like “By the Way” and “Scar Tissue,” there were some true moments of adrenaline. The group came alive for a cover of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” with Flea doing his vintage headbang and Klinghoffer moving his body like rubber. They also busted out the high-octane, start-stop banger “Police Helicopter,” which dates from their original 1983 demos and has been performed by the band maybe three other times this side of the millennium. There weren’t many surprises but they did do a version of Funkadelic’s “What Is Soul” with Kiedis singing his own lyrics: “These fucked-up fires are starting to become the norm.” And, as part of the encore, Klinghoffer performed a solo rendition of Beck’s “Cyanide Breath Mint” from 1994’s One Foot in the Grave — a kind tribute that also fit into the night’s themes of community.
St. Vincent Set List“Masseduction”
Beck Set List
Red Hot Chili Peppers Set List“Can’t Stop”“Hey”“I Wanna Be Your Dog”
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