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04.14.2023: Red Hot Chili Peppers @ JMA Wireless Dome

with The Strokes and King Princess

The Syracuse Seen kicked off a big weekend with one of the biggest names in rock today: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. This was my first time in the Dome for a music act and it probably should be my last, though I'm also self aware enough to know I wouldn't be able to stick to that. The first BIG of the night: the prices. The tickets (for a Live Nation show) were not horrifically expensive, especially when compared to Taylor Swifts latest tour. Apologies in advance for the bad photos, but I was in section 321. Even though I practically needed an oxygen tank, my ticket was over $100 when all was said and done. I would have liked to have bought merch, but tee shirts were selling for $50. Now I've lived in Orlando, home to Disney World and Universal Studios, I'm well acquainted with how prices go up for big names, but $50 bucks for a tee shirt on top of the steep ticket prices is just greed. That was the beginning of the sub-par concert experience.
Apologies to King Princess (a name which my brain keeps trying to convert to Jim Gaffigan's King Baby) but I totally missed her set. My friends and I took advantage of the nice weather to have a picnic dinner before the show and lost track of the time. While Spotify tells me she's a talented performer, based on the rest of the night, I probably did not miss much thanks to the abysmal sound quality in The Dome.
All that money to renovate the dome and apparently they did the bare minimum if anything to help the acoustics. The Strokes set was a muddy echoey sludgy mess. Julian Casablancas' voice and delivery is already somewhat laconic and mumbled on the albums, in the Dome he was unintelligible. The only comment he made that I could understand was when he said "This is a fine church." in reference to the echoes. I can't help but wonder if there was more than just acoustics at play given that he also tripped over a monitor during his set, but only his bandmates and crew would be able to answer that for certain. The Strokes set, was... fine? They didn't move around a whole lot, didn't really tell any anecdotes, and again, the audio was just a wall of noise. Based on what I could pick out from guitar riffs covered what I remember being their hits from the early 2000's, but that's about all that can be said about it.
The saving grace of the night was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though again, the night was not a knockout. They kicked the night off with a jam. Flea came out walking on his hands. Flea and Chad Smith were in matching outfits, both repping the purple and yellow of the LA Lakers, at one point Flea was also rocking a Lakers themed bass. The audio was better during RHCP's set, and Anthony Kiedis' vocals were mostly intelligible. They started with well known songs, including "Can't Stop" and "Suck My Kiss" but overall the night was heavy on newer songs. Looking around as the set went on, more and more people were sitting and having side conversations, including my friends. I will credit Flea for trying to keep the show up tempo, his one time taking the mic saying they were going to do a love ballad he played as a lullaby for his baby son, before launching into Nobody Weird Like Me. He also was often to be seen doing his Flea run around the stage like he was trying to start a circle pit with his bass. The stage setup was visually interesting with the screens starting above the stage and flowing down behind the band and flowing waterfall-like off the front edge of the stage.

The biggest cheers of the night came during the set break, The cameras were turned on the crowd and highlighted little vignettes of the crowd. The loudest of the loudest by far was for the little boy riding his fathers shoulders. The crowd went WILD for that.

After the show ended shy of 11PM the crowd cleared out quickly, myself included. Leaving the Dome was the final disappointment. I can't lie, I missed feeling the air of the Dome shove me out those last few feet. A fitting end to a night that wasn't bad, but just was always missing something from start to finish.

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