Flea’s Version Of The National Anthem: Good Or Too Avant-Garde For The Setting?

Kobe Bryant played his last game Wednesday night. No one is talking about; it’s barely been reported. So you’re welcome. You now know something that most people don’t.

Part of the festivities, aside from the multiple giveaways that were endlessly tweeted out by Darren Rovell and the numerous tributes by celebrities and athletes and the deluge of Kobe-related posts on social media was a performance of the national anthem by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Armed with his bass, a couple of effects pedals and his general Flea-ness, the bassist, who is a diehard Lakers’ fan, delivered what can only be universally described as an interesting rendition of the song. It was certainly more Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and less Lady Gaga at Super Bowl 50 and it was bound from the jump to garner a slew of reactions on social media.

There was the pro:

There was the con:

And there was Flea’s reaction, courtesy of TMZ:

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It was definitely a bold choice by Flea, no doubt about that. But with wide swath of reactions to the performance, it’s worth asking: Was it good or was it maybe, just maybe, a little too, let’s say “avant-garde” for the setting?

The case for it being good:

  • It was original and for the most part, original is always good.
  • It was some sick bass playing, as is the case when it comes to Flea.
  • It was very L.A. and I guess that counts for something, seeing as how it was in L.A.
  • It came from the heart. Flea loves the Lakers and according to a recent interview, sees Bryant as a “kindred spirit.”
  • No really, it was some really awesome bass playing.
  • It brought back memories of Jimi Hendrix. That’s always cool.
  • In a weird way, it was very Kobe, in that Kobe always seemed to march to a different tune. So it made more sense than having someone like Katy Perry or Taylor Swift belt out the anthem, even though that would have probably gone over better.

The case for it being too avant-garde for the setting:

  • Well, I mean, it was a little strange.
  • No really, it’s the national anthem. People take that seriously. And this was a national event, broadcast on national television. Playing to the cheap seats might have been a little more appropriate. It definitely would have been safer. The reaction probably wouldn’t be so harsh from some people.
  • The national anthem at a major sporting event just might not be the proper forum to experiment with something some people hold so sacred. Life is all about picking your spots and that might not have been the best spot to pick to unleash a slightly confusing to some people version of the anthem.

Ultimately, and I don’t want to sound like a square here but it’s going to happen, I think the performance of the national anthem shouldn’t be divisive. We should all be cool with it. I applaud Flea for doing what he does best — being Flea — but I just think I fall on the side of “it was too avant-garde for the setting.” I thought it was good! I really did. But I just think it wasn’t the right place, the right moment for it.

I also think Flea should have taken his hat off.

But that’s just me. I’m a Celtics’ fan.

Now Watch: Ranking Kobe Bryant’s Five Greatest Games