25 years ago I asked for Pearl Jam’s Ten on tape for my birthday. I got my wish and wore that thing out. I was 12 going on 13 and Hair Metal was in the rearview mirror, ahead of me in my mom’s station wagon was 90’s Alternative. Pearl Jam quickly became one of the most important things in my life, and with it came controversy.
You see this was the first time that the music I listened to was controversial. Ten was very impressionable upon a 13 year old kid. Remember Jeremy? The song alone is enough to affect a child, but pair that with the video, forget about it. As Pearl Jam grew so did I. We didn’t always grow together, we had issues like you find in any relationship. When they released No Code, its apparent now, that I wasn’t mature enough yet for that record, yet I stood by them. I knew that they needed to determine what kind of band they were, it was their journey, but I was along for the ride.
The first time I saw Pearl Jam was Nov 15th 1997 in Oakland California. They were the opener for a little band from England, you may have heard of them….The Rolling Stones. That’s right my first PJ show was them opening for arguable one of history’s greatest and most important bands. It will always be the best concert I will ever see, or at least the most important. Let’s fast forward 25 years from that moment I first listened to Ten on my 13th birthday. I am now 37, Pearl Jam has released 10 studio albums and I had seen them 7 times over the years.
I now know the definition of a “Happy Accident”.
PJ announced a tour the fans were calling the 25th anniversary tour, no west coast dates though. They were closing this tour with 2 epic nights at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Now back to the “Happy Accident”. As a PJ fan club member, I had what I thought was an opportunity to be drawn for the chance to buy tickets. I thought to myself, Wow, if I get the draw maybe I can plan a trip to ChiTown for the show……Well….I won. Problem is, I didn’t win the chance to buy tickets, I bought tickets. In fact, I bought a pair for the 1st night, and the 2nd night. 400 bucks spent and non-refundable.
Lucky for me my brother in law stepped in and said let’s do it. We saw Pearl Jam rock the crap out of Wrigley Field for 2 nights, they played 70 songs, each night they played for 3 hours. These shows are being described as 2 of the best they have ever performed. At a moment during “Release” I thought to myself, “How did I get here?” How did that 13 year old kid from Novato California get to Wrigley Field? I had a few existential moments like that though out this trip. It’s been less than 2 weeks since I got back, and I still think about it every day, friends all seem to want to know about this rock and roll pilgrimage. I tell them that that little band from Seattle is now on the same pedestal as The Boss, The Grateful Dead, and the other LIVE Giants of Rock n Roll.