Who: Pearl Jam
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago IL
When: July 19th (and 20th), 2013
It was a Friday evening, and despite not having tickets to the grossly over-priced (in terms of resale, anyways) Pearl Jam concert, I was still making my way over to Wrigley Field to meet up with some friends in an attempt to score a deal, when I noticed on my Yahoo weather app that Chicago could be in for some nasty storms that night. I didn’t really think anything of it, other than it could only better our chances at getting a cheaper ticket. Having seen Pearl Jam twice live previously, and the fact that it was 2013 and not 1998, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to pay the ticket broker the requested amount of $400 minimum for a ticket. Nonetheless, my brother and friends were already in the show, and a lifelong friend/total Pearl Jam junkie Jason was in town for Pitchfork Festival. So, why not see if the stars aligned and a ticket just happened to fall in our laps, right? Luckily, that is exactly what happened.
After trolling the outer gates for a good hour, we had zero success finding a ticket for less than $300. Then the heavens closed in and the rain came pouring down, only to send Vedder and his cronies cowering into the cavernous locker rooms of Wrigley stadium. Before going off however, Eddie reassured the crowd that if they hung tight and stuck around, they would be gifted a show of a lifetime. In that two plus hours that the show was rain delayed, my friend Jason, his friend Brooks, and myself managed to scavenge three free tickets due to a few kind souls that were no longer willing to wait out the storm. Pass-outs were not exactly allowed, but due to the extenuating difficulty in monitoring them, they weren’t exactly deterred either. Thus, our entry ensued. Doubts were cast about the crowd that the band would return to the stage to perform, but tweets from Eddie himself continually reassuring us of their return kept all optimists’ doubts at bay. Sure enough, a bit after midnight the lights dimmed, and out came Eddie (and his bottle of wine), Jeff, Stone, Mike, and Matt along with special guest and one of the Cubs’ all time iconic players, Ernie Banks. Ernie joined the band for a quick rendition of “All The Way” before PJ took over to smash out “All Night”, foreshadowing a very clear message to the crowd that we were not going to be leaving anytime soon.
I can’t say that I have seen a lot of concert rain delays in my life. Most times I’ve seen a treacherous storm come through at an outside venue either the band plays on but truncates the set, or the concert abruptly ends. I’ve also seen bands leave a set early due to over exhausting heat and even sound stage complications. Austin recently covered an instance of where The Killers left stage after about three songs due to a vocal exhaustion on behalf of Brandon Flowers, and I’m sure we have all heard of the infamous “bird shit catastrophe” in which the Kings of Leon stormed off stage mid set after being shat on by a flock of birds. My point is, never have I heard of a band leaving stage for more than two hours, and remaining dedicated to their fans enough to still come out and play a full f**king set. This display of dedication to their fans did not go unnoticed by any. I was shocked to see that the field that had been entirely evacuated was completely refilled by energetic fans that had been crammed into the hall of the stadium to wait out the storm. Not only was the entirety of the field reclaimed, but nearly every single seat in Wrigley was filled.
As if Pearl Jam didn’t go far enough by biting the cost of the noise ordinance and venue overage fees to come out at midnight and play until 2:30 AM, they also repaid their fans by giving them a set of a lifetime. Sprinkled amongst some brand new tracks like “Mind Your Manners” and “Lightning Bolt,” as well as old fan favorites like “Corduroy,” “Evenflow,” and “Black” were some surprising rarities such as “Leatherman” (the rarest of the three -man tracks) and “Porch.” Even “Bugs,” the nonsensical accordion-driven rarity from Vitalogy that has only found its way into two previous live performances EVER, managed to sneak its way onto the setlist, and was my personal favorite surprise of the night. And mustn’t go unmentioned the covers of the night like Pink Floyd’s “Mother,” Van Halen’s “Eruption” (no matter how cliche), and the Neil Young classic “Rocking In The Free World.”
^”I got bugs!”
All-in-all, this show was not something I expected much from. Yes, I’ve had a great affinity towards the band since I was young, but as I already explained, I was carrying an “I’m over Pearl Jam” type attitude going into this show. The fact is, these gentlemen did not quit. Not only that, but after getting shut-down by forces of nature, they came out bigger, and louder. Free tickets, to a sold out show of one of the most praised and acclaimed bands of my young generation. It was the hometown of Eddie Vedder and he was playing at the stadium of his beloved baseball team. The people I was with, the venue itself, and the heart of the band that put on the show all added up to one of the most unforgettable concert experiences of my life. But that’s not all. This night and the band’s efforts to go that extra mile for their fans shows something that is much greater than a night of music. It shows the spirit of everything Eddie Vedder claims to stand for and represents about rock and roll. After that night, I will forever sing praises of that man and his crew as long as they are around. In my book, nobody can rightfully downplay the heart, the drive, and the dedication to their fans that they live out every time they go on stage. You may not care for his/their music, but as far as I am concerned, there are few bands that possess the integrity and the spirit of rock and roll as much as Eddie and his band of (aging) punks.
“Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”
– Break for Rain Delay –
“All The Way”
“Do The Evolution”
“Mind Your Manners”
“State Of Love And Trust”
– Encore Break –
“Crown Of Thorns”
“Rocking In The Free World”