John T. Davis, Austin American-Statesman:
Remember that Biblical prophecy about "the fire next time"? Well, Thursday night, the patrons at Liberty Lunch and Cold Storage Locker got a taste of fire and ice, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers took a full-tilt crack at thawing a flash-frozen Austin audience.
The Chili Peppers had their incendiaries already laid in; a schizophrenic mix of volatile punk energy and kinetic black funk grooves. In practical terms, this meant that erstwhile slamdancers were hurling themselves offstage into the maw of the crowd to the tune of songs that were crafted in the studio by the band and Funkadelic mastermind (and producer of the Chili Peppers' latest album) George Clinton.
And if that seems like a contradiction, it was nothing to watching the band emerge shirtless in the cold to play for the shivering audience. Indeed, by the time they essayed their first encore (Hendrix's "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire" (sic) - an appropriate sentiment), Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis was stripped down to a jockey strap and a microhone. It was perverse, but only in the goofiest sort of way.
There is, in fact, an engaging goofiness about the Chili Peppers. While black rap groups put an emphasis on enunciation, Kiedis and Co. rely on sheer energy and the pulse of the beat to carry them from song to song. They essayed "Jungle Man", "Catholic School Girls Rule", "Yertle the Turtle", and "Brothers Cup" from their Freaky Styley album, but only initiates could pretend to sing along. Problems with the stage monitors didn't help matters any. Still, energy excuses a multitude of sins.