February 4, 2023

This text initially ran in 2016 and has since been up to date; we’re dusting it off for Eddie Vedder’s birthday on December twenty third.

“Fuck.” That was the one phrase Michael Roffman texted me late Monday evening. As I shrugged off sleep to attempt to work out what precisely that meant, the remainder of his message got here via: “Tonight’s set was so significantly better.” I finished getting dressed and sank again into mattress. I knew what he was upset about. No apocalypse, no emergency, only a Pearl Jam setlist that he favored higher than the one we received two nights earlier at Wrigley Subject.

I clicked on the setlist hyperlink, scanned down, and texted again: “Oh fuck…”

In phrases barely extra eloquent than these, we spent the following hour, on and off, bemoaning that we had lined the mistaken present — like two spoiled brats who had every discovered a shiny dime at his ft however grumbled that it wasn’t 1 / 4. He regretted lacking his favourite, “State of Love and Belief,” and a few deeper Ten cuts. I grew to become almost inconsolable after processing the trio of “Off He Goes,” “Immortality,” and “Rearviewmirror.” Little question he, like myself, went to mattress occupied with our present that ought to’ve been. By the morning, although, any disappointment or jealousy had subsided. We had been content material once more. Grateful for our expertise and joyful for the expertise of 40,000-plus fellow followers.

I solely carry up this anecdote as a result of I believe it hints at exactly what makes being a die-hard Pearl Jam fan distinctive. On the danger of sounding creepy, I would draw the excellence that I don’t love this band — I’m in love with this band. Following them feels extra like being in a relationship than merely being a fan of a rock band. A relationship the place a pair setlist omissions can really feel like a private slight, however evening’s sleep restores purpose and makes you notice simply how fortunate you’re. One the place a dud of an album ( you, Lightning Bolt) after a protracted wait can by no means be a deal breaker as a result of you may have an excessive amount of historical past and much too many fantastic reminiscences.

I don’t suppose I’m alone in feeling that approach. I’ve by no means run throughout a tighter, extra pleasant group than the Pearl Jam fan base, a number of of whom I shared a airplane trip with the morning of final Saturday’s (August twentieth, 2016) Wrigley Subject present. I knew them by their tour shirts, empty poster tubes tucked into their backpacks, and willingness to swap tales. I really feel that very same sense of household among the many congregations at reveals, and it’s an vitality little question felt and reciprocated by the band, whether or not or not it’s Eddie Vedder conducting a crowd-wide sing-along, taking a second to supply phrases of encouragement to somebody he is aware of is in attendance and struggling via onerous instances, or halting a present mid-song to ensure a feminine fan is alright, as he did at Monday evening’s live performance.

That’s the aura that wafts via a Pearl Jam present. Followers really feel like they matter as a lot because the band, and there’s an unstated pact of kinds that oversees the proceedings and adheres to the concept that both everybody can have a protected, enjoyable celebration or we’ve defeated the whole function of coming collectively within the first place.

There are numerous bands like Pearl Jam which have been with me because the early ’90s once I first began searching for out music alone, however none that I really feel this identical kind of connection to. Perhaps it’s as a result of Pearl Jam isn’t only a band that I grew up with; they’re a band I grew alongside and advanced with all through the years. That separates them from so most of the different bands which may get dubbed legacy acts, in the event that they’re even nonetheless round. No person goes to a Pearl Jam present seeking to recapture their youth or bask within the fleeting heat of nostalgia. We see a middle-aged Vedder nonetheless bounding round stage and summoning an inside fireplace or Mike McCready nonetheless each bit the guitar hero, and we notice that the right here and now, not less than for our three hours collectively, is sufficient. That it actually does make far more sense to stay within the current tense.

It’s on this spirit of affection and household that we humbly pieced collectively this mission, a romp via a catalog that has made tons of of unforgettable nights attainable. For those who’re studying this, you’re most likely a part of the Pearl Jam household. That being the case, be at liberty to remark or disagree on social media, and we’ll sit up for seeing you the following time Pearl Jam rolls via city. Posters up!

Matt Melis

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