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"Hey, maybe I will go see them at Blockbuster"
Tibetan Freedom Concert
RFK Stadium | 14 June 1998
Review by Anthony J. Rzepela

Jeff Stone
Ed and Matt Mike

The Peppers were added last minute to Saturday's show (per the web site) but was one of the acts shut out by lightning mishap. As you may know, they've had the problems with Dave Navarro being gone, Kiedis supposedly back on drugs, two separate accidents affecting Chad and Kiedis, several aborted attempts to play Alaska, and their last show (w/Navarro) coming in the middle of a monsoon in the Pacific. With the weather in DC shutting them out of their chance to play, I was just soooo sad.

(Although they played the 9:30 club Friday night, that's not the same thing, and not just because I didn't get to go.)

So, the revised lineup is announced for day 2. No Chili Peppers, although REM, Sonic Youth, and Radiohead are all accommodated.

The headliners (including PJ) have their sets reduced from 45 minutes to 40 on the new schedule, but the show overall is running 25 minutes behind by the time Sonic Youth get to play.

The working assumption I (and may others, I guess) had was that the strong ticket sales for day 2 were all PJ's fault. (quote of the week: "Pearl Jam ruins *everything*!") It certainly was a tough ticket - I couldn't find one until the last minute for under $95 ea. So I was damn surprised by how MANY people booked after the Beastie Boys. Don't know how it looked on MTV, but the field half-cleared when the Beasties finished. The stands got more sparse since anyone with an ounce of strength or interest could get onto the field. The crush in front of the PJ stage was intense and (I'm sure) photogenic, and the stands adjacent to the blue stage couldn't fit another soul, but on the whole, the place was looking picked through from upstairs.

I guess you know the set list by now. I recognized "Evolution" (because EV introduced it) and "Better Man" and "Evenflow". I've never really been a PJ fan. I tried. I taped a radio concert (the price was right) but by the end was like, "Let us know when you get close to a tune."

So maybe it was the (caution!) good vibes (ew!) of the day, or the sun finally giving us a break, I really enjoyed their set. I spent the first ten minutes going, "Hey, maybe I will go see them at Blockbuster" (seriously!) but by the end decided that two hours of it might not be my bag. I did not stop enjoying it, however. I was just happy to hear a bunch of guys playing really well, and was glad to be getting what I was. It was entertaining, Big Fest rock and roll, and it was good.

In the context of the show, they did a bang up job. The artist's role at these things can be nebulous, but they were loud, they rocked, Eddie looked good (whoever his colorist and stylist are should get double), they didn't seem self-conscious, and they weren't afraid of pleasing the crowd. (Eddie joked that since they couldn't even agree on the next song, it must be difficult to be in government and reaching agreement, etc.)

They finish before their time is up, their amps and drums stay up, and my companion asks about the possibility of an encore, which of course never happens at these things. But we stick it out, notice the drums still not going anywhere. Still, folks leave in droves, but then there's bass noodling. Out come the Peppers, and a veritable swarm of folks hit the field. Even though people presumably had gotten a good distance out, the field filled up within minutes with MORE people than were up for PJ. (This is where I'm getting all pherklempt).

Anyway, Flea thanked Pearl Jam for giving up some of their own set's time so the Peppers could play.

[Vedder is] eternally cool because they cut their headline slot for, and loaned their equipment to, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, if you've been following their saga over the last year, really really needed to play here this weekend. (It was like the climax of a boxing movie or something.)

Lotsa mouthpieces are Benefit Queens, but how many give up their headlining slot for a band in a rough patch in need of a break? Before yesterday, the answer was zero.

© Anthony J. Rzepela... used with permission

Tony maintains the Undercover web site. We know that everyone has fan reviews, but we thought we'd give you a review from someone who isn't a huge fan to show you how much PJ can affect an audience. We occasionaly like to do this to show another perspective, such as Seth Perlman's review of the Hartford show in 1996.