Since their self-titled album dropped in 1984, the music industry has been able to count on the Red Hot Chili Peppers to wax and wane through the airwaves, leaving a trail of funky energy in their wake. Thanks to their decade-spanning reign, different generations have gotten the opportunity to grow up under the Chili Pepper umbrella.
My definitive RHCP experience came in the summer of 2006. 16-years-old and piecing together typically existential thoughts and concerns, I spent my entire summer working at a summer camp in rural Ohio. There were a lot of memories made in that short period of time – first time my paychecks were in the hundreds, first kiss (laugh away), first semblance of responsibility – framed exclusively by the funky, double-disced Stadium Arcadium.
I purchased the Peppers’ ninth album days before I packed my bags, hoping to diversify a CD collection defined mostly by the likes of Eminem, T.I. and various G-Unit members. My expectations even-keeled, I ripped open the packaging the day I got there. It would be months before I put anything other than the red-and-blue CDs in my Walkman.
From earnest, folk-like songs like “Snow” and “Slow Cheetah,” to the kinetic, funky likes of “C’mon Girl” and “Make You Feel Better,” to sappy love ballads like “Desecration Smile” and “Hard To Concentrate” – the kind that made a 16-year-old version of myself completely lose my mind over my then-crush – there were few emotions that Stadium Arcadium didn’t manage to tap. To think that such a complete package of music was available for $12.99 was, and still is, rather astounding.
Criticisms of the album were valid – one could easily say that the Chili Peppers were essentially recycling the same proven formula that they mastered in Californication and, with 28 total tracks to offer, there was a lot of filler – but never before had I bonded with music like this. It was fun when I needed it to be fun, and pensive when I needed it to be pensive. It was a conversation starter amongst my co-workers and I, a sort of equalizer that everybody could agree on.
Stadium Arcadium will always be summer: warm weather, late nights and youthful optimism.