If I would pick one night to describe Friday night's benefit show at the Hollywood Palladium, it would be HOT!! From the performances, to the temperature in the pit, to the atmosphere in general.
First of all the anticipation level for those of us lucky fans having tickets to this show was intense to begin with. Ed Vedder AND the Chili Peppers at the Hollywood Palladium!!! Unbelievable to even fathom this could happen.
As my friend and I arrived, of course there were the usual scalpers (who thankfully seemed to trying to buy tickets than actually selling any). But unbelievably there were bootleg T-shirts being sold with old pictures of the RHCP and a Vitalogy-era, shoulder-length hair image of Ed. Actually it was quite funny. As we were being VERY thoroughly searched (even down to emptying pockets, extensive pat down, even looking under hair), I'm hoping someone will be able to sneak in a recorder but I have my doubts.
The Hollywood Palladium has a lot of history and is known for very rowdy and enthusiastic crowds. Most of the greats have played here at one time or another (I even saw David Bowie here in MY youth). It's basically just one big room with the only seating upstairs in the VIP area which is far enough away to lose the intimate feeling you get being on the floor. The capacity is 3,500 which results in enough room at the back (with STILL amazing views) for those who do not want to stand their ground towards the front.
My friend and I had already planned our strategy since we knew Ed and C Average's set was 3rd to last. Our plan....brave the front of the pit for Bob Forrest, Watt, and Ed, then bale towards the back for breathing room for Perry and RHCP. That strategy worked even though things really got intense during Ed's set. We were however determined to brave it out somehow.
1st up was Bob Forrest: Have to admit, I'd never heard of him before except for the fact that he organized this benefit for MAP, a drug rehab organization for musicians. I found out later he was the lead singer for an 80's band, Thelonious Monster. His high energy set was a pleasant surprise.
Bob's set flowed right into Watt's set. This was the first time I had seen Watt live and I have to say I was VERY impressed. What was I thinking not seeing him before? Watt and the Black Gang Crew's set was amazing including a blistering 30 Days in the Hole (for those youngins out there, check out Humble Pie). Towards the end of the set, Watt introduced Carla (from Geraldine Fibbers) saying she was going to sing a Marianne Faithful song (unfortunately didn't recognize it). I couldn't help but notice that Ed was watching this sidestage. So, of course I'm anticipating what I HOPE will happen next. And finally, there it is, as soon as Carla's song is done, Ed suddenly appears, kisses Mike and the three go into a amazing version of Against the 70's (first major highlight)!! I believe some in the crowd do not at first realize that this is Ed, not knowing about the blonde hair. At this point people in the pit start to surge forward but things are still pretty cool (although not temperature-wise seeming at least 100 degrees in the pit).
And I have to say, I give props to Mike Watt for amazingly wearing his plaid jacket thorough his set. And I'm wondering how long Ed's black (with white striped) jacket worn during Against the 70's will last cause you can tell it is smoking hot up there as well. Also couldn't help but notice that Ed is also wearing a beer wrist band like the rest of us sweltering in the audience.
After Against the 70's is the first break in the show while the stage is being set up for Ed and C Average. People start seriously staking out their spot. And then finally it's here....Ed's set and no surprise first up is Last Kiss. Ed is now wearing a Mod-ish striped red and gray striped jacket. And I couldn't help but notice that Jon of C-Average is wearing a Who Maximum R&B T-shirt (I'm hoping this is a good sign). Last Kiss (Ed messes up briefly then smiles) becomes a partial sing along (which gives me chills) and I'm thinking hey this crowd is pretty mellow and cool for a Palladium crowd. Ed intros C Average by continuing the joke started at the Tibetan Freedom Concert. He said he picked these two guys out of the crowd in Chicago (yes he said Chicago) and it worked pretty well before, so we're going to do it again. I think most are actually believing this.
Ed and Co, kick into Watch Outside, the Mono Men cover (Ed loses the jacket and gets comfortable) and things change drastically in the pit. Things start getting rough and we are having to literally defend our position. It is definitely worth it though cause Watch Outside is intense and the crowd is responding in kind even though I get the feeling not too many have heard this amazing song before. Driven to Tears is next, a very big treat.
Then Ed says the next two songs are by Dead Moon and if you've never heard them before, now you can say you have. This is the 2nd highlight for me, Running Out of Time, simply amazing and blistering....extended version that runs right into Diamonds in the Rough. I've never heard these songs before (and most of the audience are in the same category) but they just rocked and smoked! The pit then gets even more intense and hot. People are pushing together to where we are having problems breathing, so we move side stage a bit where we can actually breathe. At this stage Security is pulling a few girls out of the pit. Luckily our new spot is still very close.
Then Ed starts his L.A. chant ala the M.W. one for the Monkey Wrench radio show. He said he wrote down L.A. in his notebook on the plane and came up with these. Unfortunately I don't remember too many (I'm still hoping we get a recording of this) but "lazy ass", "late always", "lame addict" come to mind. My friend remembers "legs akimbo" and "lipstick askew". The band goes into Love.....Building on Fire, a Talking Heads cover, very cool.
Then Ed starts a "fuck you" drug rant. People who are not used to Ed's sarcasm are a little stunned when he says if someone is into drugs we should just let them fucking die, etc., etc. People are cheering the "fuck yous", not exactly sure what this is all about. He is tying this speech into the drug rehab theme of this benefit. He ends by talking more compassionately about people with a drug problem, saying if someone you love is doing drugs, contact the guys at MAP.
Then it's Patriot, the "punked up" version unrecognizable at first but smoking hot, ok this is THE highlight for me. And Ed is enjoying this one going crazy with the windmills at the end! Ed and C Average leave and then there is an Eddie!! Eddie!! chant to no avail cause he doesn't come back. When it is apparent that he is not coming back, we bale to get some beer, cool down, etc. missing some of Perry's DJ-stint. But we HAVE to get ready for the Chili Peppers!
Thank God we did bale cause things of course got even rougher in the pit during the Chili Pepper's set. But we staked out a good spot about 3/4 way back with still a GREAT view but with breathing room. The RHCP set was totally amazing and intense, but also much too short. The trouble with benefit shows is that the sets ARE shorter than usual and the Chili Peppers did a short 1 hour 15 minute set but it was quite powerful and very apparent they are back with hopefully all their troubles behind them. It was strange seeing Flea with an afro and Anthony with short platinum hair and of course John Fruscante back.
Back to Ed's set, which of course was the highlight for me! I know this was a similar set to the TFC but I still think it was a bold set for an L.A crowd and it fit perfectly with music from Watt and RHCP....the same intense energy. I think Ed surprised a lot of people with his set. And the audience was really into it, amazing since most had not heard most of these songs before and the only "hit" was Last Kiss.
Of course all of us wished for a longer set by Ed and C Average but what we got was truly awesome and something I'll never forget. And Ed supporting the Chili Peppers is something I could never have imagined in a million years, truly memorable. Truly an amazing and hot night in L.A. and a perfect way to start the summer.