The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel Friday night (Feb. 5) — and there were several unusual moments for a presidential fundraiser, from the mosh pits to a woman sitting on a guy’s shoulders.
The most memorable, however, was the woman who attempted a stage dive, only to be ignored by confused fans in the front row. As a result, she wound up diving head first into some chairs — definitely not your typical fundraiser, but that’s what all involved wanted.
“The RHCP event was not only a small donation fundraiser because Bernie doesn’t take money from corporations or Super PACs, but an effort to energize young people,” artist Shepard Fairey, who created an original poster for the event, told Billboard.
The event was organized by Rain Phoenix, an actress, singer and friend of the band. She told Billboard they were just waiting for a chance to get involved with the Sanders campaign.
“They said we’ve been supporting Bernie and we said we’d love to do a concert. No one had tapped them before I did,” Phoenix said. “I know they are authentic, as Bernie is, about what they believe. They follow through if they say they want to do it, and their hearts are in the right place.”
Luis Calderin, who serves as Youth, Culture and Arts Manager for the campaign, embraced the concert.
“This was a fundraiser that the Chili Peppers and Rain Phoenix brought to the campaign and it made all the sense in the world. These guys are big supporters, so we came out here to help make it official,” he said, adding the next day he was flying back to New Hampshire, where the campaign was holding a fundraiser with Edward Sharpe, Young the Giant and more on Feb. 8.
— Chad Smith (@RHCPchad) February 5, 2016
Following an opening set from DJ Z-Trip, who worked up a special mix for the appearance, and a brief intermission, Sanders delivered a video message in which he thanked Fairey, Z-Trip and especially the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He ended the clip saying, “We cannot accomplish what has to be accomplished unless there is a political revolution in this country. That’s how change comes, it always comes from the bottom up.”
From there, the crowd stood up as the Chilis took the stage on time at 9:15 p.m. Opening with a short jam that served as the intro to “Can’t Stop,” the band showed from the opening that they were very fired up to be back on stage in support of Sanders.
The group kept the political speak to a minimum, save for Flea’s speech before the encore, where he said, “We love Bernie Sanders, we are honored to be here, thank you so much for supporting.” Frontman Anthony Kiedis was impassioned during the closing of “Around the World,” as he snarled, “Now is the time!”
There was much more than just politics on RHCP’s mind after an extended break from the stage while working on a new album, which Flea said they wanted to play, before adding: “But the way things are we have to wait until the new album, we feel very constricted.”
Though the band did work in a cover of David Bowie’s “Cracked Actor,” which Flea joked after, “We f—ed up on that, but we loved David Bowie a lot.” He also paid his own homage to late Earth, Wind & Fire co-founder Maurice White, singing a couple of acapella lines from “Shining Star” before “Snow (Hey O).”
As expected for an intimate gig, the Chili Peppers were remarkably loose, going back to 1984 for “Police Helicopter,” after which Flea said, “there was a time when all our songs went like that.” And before “Otherside,” the band came to the front of the stage to take a selfie with everyone in the crowd wearing the Bernie hats that were given out for free to the audience.
There were several highlights during the 90-minute set, though a particular standout was the jazzy “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.”
As impressive as the Chili Peppers were on this night, they band was not the star of this evening, as one fan pointed out earlier in the night, “The Red Hot Chili Peppers annoy me, I came out to support Bernie.”
As Sanders supporters, the Chili Peppers would likely take that in a minute, just as they surely welcomed the chants of Bernie that filled the Ace theater as they left the stage.
Here’s the set list:
“Factory of Faith”
“Nobody Weird Like Me”
“Around the World”
“Blood Sugar Sex Magik”
“Me and My Friends”
“Snow (Hey Oh)”
“By ihe Way”
“Give it Away”