“[…] This time there were a couple girls on stage, which was pretty rad. I’m always stoked to see some gender plurality in a band. A short-haired pixie on the bass and a tall lanky drink of water on rhythm guitar and keyboards. Really good energy. A fast driving beat anchored a quasi-grunge surf garage sound. The guy on lead guitar in his prison blues and beanie shared vocals with the girl on bass but her voice was a little mousy and was largely lost behind all the instruments. The guy sounded good (he might have been mic’d better) and was hitting some impressive falsetto notes […] I can’t deny that their set was a little sloppy but you found yourself rooting for them because even if you weren’t feeling it, you could tell that THEY were feeling it. They were obviously stoked to be on stage – any stage – and that’s how a band should bring it. Reckless abandon, no matter where they are. They even smiled a few times.
The set was dominated by an upbeat spacy twang that reflects the sort of trans-Atlantic surf guitar riffs that I’ve heard creep back into a lot of stuff I’m listening to. And I dig it […] Some of it was what the band self-glossed as “funky”. Not sure what their definition of funk is. I definitely was not feeling a lot of James Brown or Bootsy Collins in what were fairly aimless walls of noise and distortion […] Potential trumps refinement.”
Pearl Jam got me drunk my freshman year of high school. Well … not literally … let me explain.
I was a decently athletic kid back in the day. I played three sports and earned a varsity letter that year in Track & Field. To celebrate Spring break, the varsity letterman had a house party in the hills. A classmate of mine’s brother was a member of the club, and he invited a couple of other fellas to join in on the fun.
Being an underclassman, attending the privileged lettman party was a bit intimidating. My only point of reference of what parties of that ilk were like I gleaned from movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “House Party“. I was anticipating the latter, and I shuddered at the though that I could be that party’s Long Duk Dong.
When I got to the party, the varsity letterman and their upperclass female friends were already there boozing it up. The hot, unattainable upperclass females aside, I noticed the music playing the background. It was Pearl Jam’s “Ten”, and it was on repeat for the whole evening. At least, that what I remember.
With nervous anticipation, I stepped into the party and grabbed my first beer in a plastic, red cup … ever. In the kitchen, a crowd had amassed around willing participants beer bonging, and before I knew it, I was on my knees, taking tips from others about how to effectively take in the 4 beers in one incredibly large “shot”.
The rest of the evening, truth be told, is a bit of a blur. I remember hearing “Alive” and “Why Go” while I was babbling about how my parents would kick my ass if they found I was a drunk. I remember flirting with the sophomore I had a crush on in the backyard while “Black” was playing. I remember listening to “Release” while I was nibbling on tree leaves because some of the varsity letterman convinced me that it would freshen my breath so that my parents would never be able to tell.
I woke up the next morning with my first hangover ever, and with Pearl Jam melodies echoing in my head. Pearl Jam may not have actually gotten me drunk, but they were there with me, and I remember that vividly, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Pearl Jam has been on my concert going bucket list for the longest time. When I heard they were playing two nights at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, I and a friend jumped at the chance to get tickets and tickets were purchased for their show on the 24th. Knowing that Pearl Jam never plays the same set twice, I kept my fingers crossed that Sunday would be the day they would play most of the tracks off of “Ten”.
Hours before the show on the 23rd, another friend of mine called to invite me to the show for that evening. WHAT?!?! Canceling the plans I had made for the evening, I accepted the gift that the music-gods offered, and thank the heavens that I did as they played almost all of the songs from “Ten” that left such a strong impression on me at that party.
Though I didn’t beer bong for either of those shows, I did have a couple beers and reminisced about those early days of my halcyon youth, watching them kill the stage with their musicianship and music. Cheers, Pearl Jam. Next round, or beer bong, is on me.
Highlights from November 23, 2013
Highlights from November 24, 2013
Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.
To check out pictures of other bands I was able to catch at the festival, CLICK HERE.
Since I was already up at the front of the stage for Charles Bradley, I decided to stay put for the next band to grace the main stage: The Breeders. The Breeders were very popular during my high school days in the early 90s, but truth be told, during that time my alternative rock tastes leaned more toward Nirvana , Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam. Don’t get me wrong, I liked The Breeders’ music a lot, I mean who can resist their hit “Cannonball”, but I think adolescent guys being adolescent guys, I was a little hesitant to hold a torch for a band that my younger sister was really into.
Knowing that the band would be playing their second album, “Last Splash”, in its entirety (which album, by the way, is celebrating its 20 anniversary, and was reissued as a “deluxe edition”, this year …. Yowza!!!), I was looking foward to hearing “Cannonball”, which I knew was the second track on the album. Because I wanted to also check out another artist whose set overlapped with The Breeders, I planned on catching at least half of their set before maneuvering away from the crowd … And a big crowd it was.
Their fans came out in droves and cheered like mad when they took the stage to set up their equipment. The album’s original lineup was on stage: vocalists/guitarists Kim and Kelley Deal, bassist Josephine Wiggs and Drummer Jim MacPherson. There was an additional band member on stage, but I didn’t recognize who she was. I couldn’t get any photos of Jim MacPherson since I didn’t have a good angle.
Without greeting the crowd, they opened with a Guided by Voices cover of “Shocker In Gloomtown”. Afterwards, Kim Deal greeted the massive crowd and expressed the band’s gratitude for being able to perform at the festival, and with that they jumped into playing “Last Splash”. They played the album in order, so I got to hear “Cannonball”. I didn’t get to hear their other big singles (“Saints” and “Divine Hammer”), as I left after about 4 or 5 more songs, but I got what I needed to satisfy my music craving. I made a note that I was amused with how in between songs Kelley or Kim would gleefully point out that they were using some of the same musical instruments that were used for the original recordings. If that isn’t being faithful to the original album, I don’t know what it is. As I left my spot from the front of the stage, the girls behind me squealed with delight beholding their newly, unobstructed view.
As I was walking to the next band on my list, I swear could hear The Breeders sing the lyrics “Come back to me right now”. I kept walking, but I did stop to pause for a second to think about it.
Setlist (pulled from setlistfm.com):
- Shocker In Gloomtown (Guided by Voices cover)
- New Year
- Invisible Man
- No Aloha
- Do You Love Me Now?
- I Just Wanna Get Along
- Mad Lucas
- Divine Hammer
- Saints (with Bradford Cox)
- Drivin’ on 9 (Ed Redeeming Qualities cover)
- Roi (Reprise)
- Fortunately Gone