Before August 18th, 2012 I couldn’t name you three Jane’s Addiction songs if my life depended on it. I know the band best from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soundtrack.
After August 18th, 2012, I’ve realized I can only name one Jane’s Addiction song, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their one hell of a weird show at Foxwoods Resort and Casino.
The theater is swanky chic with modern-looking light fixtures and vested ushers at every staircase to make sure you don’t trip down all five steps after pounding four or five $6 Coors Lights. It all clashes against the centerpiece of Addiction’s stage dressing: two giant female statues, breasts bare and puffed out. To the right there’s a ladder leading up to some kind of platform on which a good amount of crazy will occur later in the evening.
The lights go down, the crowd comes alive and cheers, Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” comes over the theater speakers…and nothing happens. About six minutes later you might get the feeling Jane’s Addiction precedes all their performances by playing Wish You Were Here in its entirety. Just when all seems lost and another $20 beer is in order, the band enters the stage a couple minutes into “Welcome to the Machine”. The song unceremoniously fades out and Addiction breaks into their first few songs without a word to the crowd. Two scantily-clad ladies are lowered from the ceiling on swings and move in rhythm to the songs. A man in an odd looking costume roams the stage, seemingly entrusted with the role of “being way creepy”. Jane’s Addiction has arrived.
After the face-blasting introduction, things quiet down enough for Perry Ferrell to make quips about gambling, drinking, and other debauchery. He even plays the mad bartender, sharing the bottle of liquor he brought on stage with the front row, pouring drinks to anyone who will raise their glass.
The show goes on, never stopping for long and Jane’s Addiction pumps out their greatest hits and probably some new ones (I wouldn’t know the difference, admittedly) for the sparse amount of dedicated fans in the audience (for every person standing, three were sitting). Still, even guys like myself, who are only at the show presumably because they were offered free tickets, are into it, nodding their heads, pumping their rockfists, and pretending to know the lyrics. The theatrics continue with vintage erotica broadcasted on three giant screens, the scantily clad vixens return to dance on the raised platform, and Creepy Guy comes back in different costumes, at one point splashing himself with a liquid that hardens into a mask which he then peels off his face. All this behind Ferrell’s constant twirling and bending, practically bleeding charisma next to Dave Navarro’s mostly stoic shredding. Both are shirtless, Ferrel drinks from his bottle, Navarro smokes cigarettes that appear from nowhere, both hands busy burning up the fretboard – 90s rock n roll in full resurrection.
After about an hour’s worth of alternative bliss, the band plays one last song that I still can’t name and exit the stage. There is no encore.
I won’t say the night made a life-long fan out of me, but I will say it was one damn good show and that, delay aside, I have newfound respect for the band and do feel slightly ashamed for having a video game be responsible for most of my prior exposure to their music. The performance was tight, the spectacle was large, and the air thick with nostalgia. Jane’s Addiction may not have reinvented the rock n roll show at Foxwoods (surely a hard thing to do in a Connecticut casino), but they sure as hell proved that for anyone willing to forget about terrorism, recessions, and social networks, if even for just an hour, the 90s are still very much alive and that alt. rock will never, ever die.