While it wasn’t built for it in mind, US Bank Stadium is the largest concert venue in Minnesota. It was built for Vikings games and NCAA Championship games to be played in front of over 50,000 people. But even though it’s seven years old, the powers that be haven’t figured out how to make anything other than gjallarhorns and goal buzzers sound good in there.
It’s a shame, especially being that the stadium is back to hosting major artists for concerts for the first time since the pandemic. And with ticket prices as high as they are, you’de think you would be getting something that sounds good for your money. But take it from me – Unless you’re in the front, or at least on the ground level, you’re going to be swept up in reverb and echos that Isnt even worth the nosebleeds.
However, tonight you could find tickets to Red Hot Chili Peppers for just over $25, which is less than what it would cost to park your car nearby. It’s the most affordable tickets Ive been able to find for an act this big lately, given that many bands are charging hundreds for these same seats that were easily filled tonight, with fans who were more than happy to pay those prices.
Many fans I spoke to mentioned that they were more here for The Strokes, who were one of the opening acts for RHCP, and last performed in Minnesota back in 2006, a whopping 16 years ago. While their return was long overdue, certainly much more overdue than The Red Hot Chili Peppers, their set was somewhat of a letdown – especially for fans who have been long waiting those sixteen years. The Strokes performed only nine songs, two of which coming from their latest release, 2020’s The New Abnormal. Lead singer Julian Casablancas seemed bored and distant, disinterested in the crowd who was now coming in fast to fill their seats – all 35,000 of them.
The rest of the band took on the look and the momentum of the stadium rockers they wanted to be during songs, excited and into the music they were playing, but not before having that momentum derailed by Casablancas’s rambling between songs. “I want to watch some football” he said, looking around the stadium before starting Bad Decisions. Halfway through their set, Casablancas even called out a fan who somehow upset him. “Fuck you, dont even start. You caught me on the wrong day, dude.” Afterwards, performing a vocally lackluster Soma.
Thank goodness their set was brief. Ide blame the disinterest in the show from Casablancas on nerves, but with the band performing at larger venues over the last year, including Lollapalooza India, I can’t say they’re not used to these larger stages. If – not when- they do come back to town, I’m sure anyone who attended the show tonight would be okay with putting them back in the 7th St Entry. It would be easier for Casablancas to call out fans there anyway.
It was especially a stark contrast to King Princess, who performed before The Strokes to a unfortunately mostly vacant stadium. She rocked the stage like it was her own stadium show, and had none of the attitude or disinterest in the crowd that The Strokes had. It’s clear that King Princess is ready to secede their opening band status for arena shows of their own, especially after opening for Kacey Musgraves and Shawn Mendes within the last couple years alone. The Gen-Z pop act was a much better fit for the opening slot than The Strokes, and much more respectful to the lucky audience that showed up early enough to see them perform. Once you hit the age bracket that Red Hot Chili Peppers plays for, it’s hard to get into “new music”, And with the amount of phones out to record King Princess, I hope they’ve helped someone get further along on their own musical journey.
Speaking of age brackets, It’s easy to talk about the wrinkling, flabby skin of aging rockers in comparison to the youthful looks of their heyday – as if that’s a big detractor when judging a show from a legacy act like this. However, seeing Flea perform in a suit – or even with any kind of upper body coverings – would just be fucking weird. And while the band is entering their sixties (with the exception of returning guitarist John Frusciante who is still a few years away) They still carry the youthful mindset and technical ability needed to play this music. Case in point – Flea did a handstand walk across the stage before even starting the set.
Their show kicked off with the three of them, Flea, Drummer Chad Smith, and John Frusciante just jamming out for a solid few minutes, turning US Bank Stadium into a practice room filled with thirty five thousand people. It was a real treat for fans, who have long awaited Frusciante’s return to the band, to just hear some raw jamming and interplay with the band before lead singer Anthony Kiedis entered the stage to start Around The World.
It was clear that Frusciante was the real star of the show that night – even with Flea’s technical ability and showmanship being the fan favorite. On top of looking both happy and healthy, He was also the best sounding, especially in the acoustic nightmare that is US Bank Stadium. Frusciante shined throughout the night, especially on his solo cover of Elton John’s Your Song and Right On Time, which he performed with an intro from The Clash’s London Calling.
The setlist had to pull from over thirty years of work from the band, but mostly focused on 1999’s Californication, (drawing 5 songs out of the 19 song setlist) and 2022’s Unlimited Love. It was an unforgettable night from one of the bands to spearhead alternative rock over thirty years ago, with a stage presence and skill level that has never left.