Bangers and Bloopers: Five Highlights From Red Hot Chili Peppers' Oceana Charity Gig in Los Angeles

The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Rock Under The Stars

The Red Hot Chili Peppers perform onstage during Oceana's Fourth Annual "Rock Under The Stars" Featuring The Red Hot Chili Peppers on Oct. 12, 2019 in Hollywood, Calif.

You can’t get too much more quintessentially SoCal than watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers play in a backyard in the Hollywood Hills. 

On Saturday night (Oct. 12), a small invited crowd got to experience the L.A. legends close up as they performed for the fourth annual “Rock Under The Stars” fundraiser event thrown by Oceana, an organization dedicated to preserving the world’s oceans and protecting the seas from the scourge of one-time use plastics. Previous events have included sets from Sting, Don Henley and Dead and Co. featuring John Mayer.     

The Chili Peppers have just returned from playing Rock in Rio and although the genteel crowd -- featuring celebrities such as Jeff Goldblum and Angelica Houston -- needed a lot more warming up, the four-piece still played their 40-minute as though they were in front of 100,000 screaming Brazilians. Here are five of the best moments from their uniquely intimate gig.  

Josh Klinghoffer shows his chops

Over the last decade, the Chili Peppers guitarist has done a fine job filling the impossibly big shoes of John Frusciante, but he’s become so much more than a replacement. Adding his own flair and feel into the band, Klinghoffer’s presence is now immense. Following a particularly soulful solo in “Zephyr Song,” even singer Anthony Kiedis took a second to note, “That shit sounded good, Josh.” 

Flea goes full Architectural Digest

During one between-song interlude, Flea honored his host -- T.V. producer and Oceana board president Keith Addis -- with a tongue-in-cheek breakdown of his elegant property. “There’s some nice, ornate metalwork, and a tower with smooth edges,” he deadpanned. “It’s a good night.” Once his bass playing days are done, Flea might have a bright future in doing voiceovers for HGTV shows.

Chad Smith

Anyone who’s ever come within earshot of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song knows that Smith is a monster drummer, but when the band are playing in such a tiny space, it’s a wonderfully physical experience. During a titanic “I Like Dirt,” Smith’s kick-drum reverberated hard enough to make it feel like your spleen was on the verge of rupturing.

“Higher Ground”

Believe it or not, it’s 30 years since the band dropped this outrageous Stevie Wonder cover and opened the doors on their global domination, which was one of the hardest-slapping songs of the set.

By the way… how does it go again? 

The finale of the night provided the lucky guests with a bizarre rarity: the Chili Peppers forgetting how to play one of their biggest hits. Flea and Klinghoffer turned to face each, apparently to start their 2002 smash “By the Way,” but looked completely perplexed by the horrendous, out-of-tune racket they created. For a good minute, the duo looked utterly stumped as guests giggled (“I blame the bass tech” quipped Kiedis) before Flea switched out his instrument and the band launched into a note-perfect “Give It Away.” As back-up plans go, it’s a pretty good one to have up your sleeve.