Pearl Jam 20
It is Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary. Today, there is a movie, book, and soundtrack box set to celebrate the cause. Being as though they are my favorite band, I thought I would join the chorus.
First, how I met them. The first time I saw them live, I was not a fan. I didn't know a single song. They were the opener on a 3 band bill. The video for 'Even Flow' was just breaking big on MTV, and the band was gaining traction. However, I didn't have MTV at the time, so I knew nothing about them. I went to the show to see the Chili Peppers and Nirvana. Yeah, quite a bill, huh?
Their energy absolutely blew me away. It was a lot like the videos you see from way back when. Ed would climb the scaffolding around the stage and hang upside down over the crowd... and sing. After that night, I made it a point to see them and get their cassette (Ten). I got to see them 2 more times on that album, and their rise was meteoric... like nothing I have ever seen. The second show was scheduled for Hayden Square. It's a small outdoor park in front of the bars in Tempe, AZ. I saw Edie Brickell there, too. It holds a few hundred people. The show sold out too quick, so they moved it to Mesa Amphitheater (prolly 10,000). That show sold out, so they added a second show (which sold out. I was at one of those shows, don't remember which).
It was a great run, then I didn't see them again for another 7 or 8 years. They took on Ticketbastard and lost. They stopped touring, for the most part. So, I didn't get to see them on Vs, No Code, Vitalogy. They didn't tour again until 1997 on Yield.
Enough about that. How did Eddie not make the 27 club? That is what I have been thinking about lately. His intensity was real, and it was scary. I knew there was NO way this guy would grow old gracefully. There is no possibly way to maintain that intensity, it simply can't be done. What would it be? plane crash, drugs? Well, he wasn't a big druggie, and I think that is why he is still alive. He is simply a drinker, and that doesn't kill nearly as many.
I have been a Pearl Jam fan even when it was difficult. and it was REALLY difficult for many many years. They wouldn't tour, or make videos. I am a live music nut. how the hell am I supposed to follow band that refuses to do any kind of press? There was no internet to speak of back then, either. So, I couldn't sate myself with youtube clips. We just traded bootlegs.
I also appreciate how Pearl Jam did their business. Even though it was nearly career suicide to take on Ticketbastard.. they did it. They also allowed ALL shows to be recorded and traded. This is more common now, but was a breakthrough when they did it. only the Grateful Dead before them allowed this. They also distributed the best concert seats, and discount prices. Ticketmaster put an end to that, though, big time.
love them. The band gets better with age (I can't say that about anyone else except for the Grateful Dead and Iron Maiden). They remain gracious and appreciative, as well.