Published Jun 01, 2003Even if you don't like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you've got to thank them for everything their tour of old folk funk-punk brings to your city. Apart from the usual gaggle of scantily-clad jailbait determined in full (frontal) force to hotbox all sense out of a hosting arena, the Chilis usually tow in some quality tour bus bedfellows. This year they've invited the bone-crushing Queens of the Stone Age and At the Drive-In offshoot the Mars Volta to loosen those belts before your annual serving of saturated funk. A sparse crowd of early birds witnessed the Mars Volta seamlessly thump out the first few tracks off their forthcoming LP, De-loused in the Comatorium. The progressive monster of a disc was honoured with a performance of both cerebral and visceral noise in which front-man Cedric Bixler spazzed like a young James Brown on acid while guitarist Omar Rodriguez coaxed a hefty mass of pedals, which could have controlled all of North America's power supply, into a wall of sci-fi guitar effects. During closer "Drunkship of Lanterns," Bixler ventured onto the monitors with a cymbal held high asking, "is anybody out there?" Unfortunately there literally wasn't. The stage was fittingly stripped to bare black for the only proper rock'n'roll band on the bill, QOTSA. Josh Homme and company ripped through a deafening set of raunchy rock for the expanding crowd, who flashed their devil horns at the familiar "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow." But it was the sinister march of "The Sky is Falling" that seemed to win everyone over, except of course for the bawling three-year-old in front of me whose mother brought along to "hear the Chili Peppers play By the Way.'" Lucky her! The fit and youthful looking RHCP opened with it and carried on the greatest hits live parody that they've been relegated to. In all frightening fairness, I don't own a single Chili's disc, but somehow knew all the lyrics. I kind of enjoyed it too. Bastards!