When I was 17, nearly 18, I flew to Colorado without my parents to attend my college orientation. It was early summer and I raced back to attend a Pearl Jam concert that was supposed to change the world of ticket sales. Eddie Vedder et al chose to boycott Ticketmaster due to onerous fees. In the spring of 1995, I paid what I remember to be “a buttload of money” to attend the Pearl Jam concert in the Golden Gate Polo Fields. Three of us made our way to San Francisco, and were ready for the day. Well, sort of. Temperatures skyrocketed to high 90s. In the Sunset District, this is highly abnormal. People passed out right and left due to sunstroke. My friends chose to drink straight vodka and were eventually sicker than dogs. Neil Young, who was opening for Pearl Jam, kept singing and playing, playing and singing. I wasn’t a fan.
By the time Eddie Vedder and his band made their appearance on stage, he was stumbling. I was up close to the stage thanks to my drunk girlfriends. I didn’t dare to leave them because this whole scene was (and probably is, even still) very new to me.
But they played like hell for nearly 30 minutes which was fantastic, until it wasn’t. Eddie pawed at the mic, set off an exorbatant amount of feedback which caused everyone to clutch their ears, and mumbled an inaudable phrase. We as an audience received the occasional word and had to piece everything together. “Flu”, “sick”, “worst day of my life”, and then Eddie split. As the crowd realized what happened, the booing began. And we stopped once one of the band members spouted explatives as a result of our booing. Then Neil Young came out. He played, and played, played, and played. I waited patiently for my friends who insisted on waiting for Eddie to return. When it’s hotter than Hell and the guy you are listening to sounds like a broken record, mentioning moons and gold and being helpless, well–you tune out. I tuned out. I was pissed. We waited diligently with the hope that they would return. Actually we were promised more than several times that he would, but he didn’t. And I waited, hating every minute.
I’m not sure why I am thinking of this moment–perhaps because both Neil Young and Pearl Jam are present tonight. All six songs also have to do with waiting, oddly enough. But I wonder about the idea of perspective: I chose to boycott Pearl Jam for Continue reading