Show started great with a L.A. band named the Street Walkin' Chettahs. Good, fast, loud set, lotta fun. Next came a run of the mill ska band The Skelletones, though I must now admit after hearing a ska version of "These Boots Were Made for Walking", I can now say that I have heard it all.
Next came John. Being in Nashville isn't always the best place to live if you like keeping up with west coast artists. Having liked John's playing in the RHCP and being terribly disappointed in his solo record, I knew I had to check him out in a solo setting. He came to the stage looking surprisingly good, not gaunt like the old days. He played 4 songs on acoustic guitar, it was pretty raw, he doesnt have the best voice to start with. Mostly it consisted of mumbles and screams. he got zero applause. He was then joined by Norwood and a drummer. They played 3 songs that all came to abrupt stops, then John walked off the stage without saying a word.
Next on was Keith Morris, Norwood, unknown drummer and geeky looking old guitar player, they rocked through 4 songs, got the crowd (what little there was of it) going. Then Thelonious Monster, Bob Forrest, Norwood, same unknown drummer and John. They played about 6 songs, really good! John wailed on guitar, he never looked up the entire time. Lastly, a forgetable performance by Trulio Disgarcias, way too long winded.
I found out about this show about a week before and made plans to be there. I have been a fan of John Frusciante since his inception into the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There was no better replacement for Hillel Slovak. I had not seen John play since late 1989 and was really excited to see him again after so long.
While waiting for him to come to the stage I was talking with some people and out of nowhere, it seemed, came his voice. It kind of reminded me of when RHCP were on Saturday Night Live and played “Under The Bridge” and John’s voice was a little “off”. As I walked around the corner into the hall and saw him standing there on stage I was in shock. I had not heard anything about him since he left the band. He looked pale, weak and sickly. Because there were only a few people in attendance I was able to walk right up to the stage. I got a better look and noticed his asterisk (RHCP) tattoo on his wrist was scarred and fading. His teeth looked almost non-existent. There was such sadness surrounding him. I can’t remember every song he played or in what order. It was a very short set, 30 minutes at best. I remember hearing “Your Pussy’s Glued to a Building on Fire”, “My Smile is a Rifle” and the Nirvana cover “Moist Vagina” (which I only found out the name recently). He didn’t address the audience once or say “Thank You” after a song. His playing was a bit rough and his voice sounded like it hurt to sing. I felt so sad for him because I always thought he would turn out to be this fantastic guitar player. When he finished the last song he walked off the stage to very little applause. I think some people were a little annoyed by him.
After that night I made it a personal goal to “will” him back to health. I did as much web research as I could back then and in the Summer of ’98 I was reading a magazine and saw a tiny blurb about him re-joining RHCP. Since then he has recorded a plethora of new albums and has evolved so much as a musician. To me, each album sounds better (even different) than the one before. Now that he has left RHCP again I hope to be able to see more solo shows.
Although this performance in ’97 was certainly not the best, it wasn’t terrible. I feel like I needed to see it, and I feel privileged to be able to say I did.