While I appreciate a lot about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I fell out of love with them in late 90s. I went to see them play the Cumberland County Civic Center in the late 90s when Californication came out. The album itself is what initially led me to fall out of love with them, but I was psyched to check them out in concert anyway—They have to put on a great show, right?—but when I finally did see them, it felt like they totally phoned their set in. Ironically, the Foo Fighters opened for them and I was never a huge fan of them to that point, but Dave Ghrol and company opened for them, killed it, and saved that concert from being a total disaster. While I am still not a very big Foo Fighters fan, I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for them for saving that show.
At the same time, despite falling out of love with them, I still have a great deal of appreciation and respect for the Chili Peppers. This video of them playing with George Clinton, the P-Funk All Stars and Weapon of Choice at the 1993 Grammy’s plays no small part in fortifying that feeling. There are some things that have been captured on video that I am simply elated to know happened. Most people feel this way about particular videos, I know, but by the looks of most of my social media streams this appreciation appears to be largely associated with video of cats saving children and dogs stealing each others food. To each their own.
Any video that begins with a guy who looks like this talking trash about the fashion choices of other people is going to be awesome.
When I need to center, to clear my mind, this video serves in the place of my mantra. From Garry Shandling looking like early 90s Garry Shandling and talking about bad fashion to mid-career George Clinton speaking hoarse Alienese (WHAT IS HE EVEN SAYING / IS HE WEARING SNOW BOOTS IN LOS ANGELES?) to the balloons tied to a diaper to the Sumo costume…
And this is only 30 seconds into the video.
Other points of interest:
80s Howard Stern on the bongos
old-timey muscle suit meets Richard Simmons horn section
I am just so happy to know that families were exposed to this and parents that saw it with their children probably felt like society was falling apart at the seams. It feels like the antithesis of the safe, stiff, staged event that I think of when I imagine the Grammy’s. It is just a beautiful, Debordian, anarchic performance.
It isn’t new, I know. There are several versions of this video online, each of which have been online for years. But it never, ever gets old for me. In fact, nearly every single time I watch this it brings me to tears. It plays like a visual power ballad in that it pulls at every emotional lever of the subconscious and before I know it, tears.
When my kids ask me what 90s culture was like, I could show them 90210 or Saved By the Bell or Mallrats or Boyz n the Hood or Tony Hawk or Dre and Snoop or whatever, but I will show them this.
Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.