It was about 2:00 and the adventure had begun. My friend Steve and I were so pumped! We pulled into the parking lot at Polaris Amphitheatre. I looked around for the Ten Club ticket window, when I saw a line about 50 people long already. "Great!" I thought to myself. Once again I had grossly underestimated the number of PJ fans out there, specifically Ten Club members. For some reason, I expected to see about ten or twelve loyal fans waiting for the ticket window to open.
We got in line and I began counting the people in front of us. I stopped counting at like 95 or so. The window opened a little after 3:00 and the line started moving. I was a little bummed about all of the people in front of me, but I finally got up to the window after only waiting about 15 minutes. I plopped down my ID and Ten Club email and the woman hands me two tickets. "NO WAY!" I said to myself. Sure enough, two seats second row! Instantly I was pumped again!
We found our seats and they we dead center. It was about ten minutes before Sonic Youth was about to play, when I saw a guy with short blond hair standing at the right edge of the stage. It was Mr. McCready himself. He was talking to a couple of people and signing an autograph, so walked over. He was about 8 feet away and started to leave, when I held up my "McCready for President" t-shirt. He turned toward me, laughed and said, "No way man, not me. You got the wrong guy."
Sonic Youth came out and played a great set. I really wasn't into them at Indy, but it's not hard to "get into" a band when you're in the second row. They rocked! Ed was taping the show through a nice compact video camera at the right side of the stage.
So after they changed the stage, I heard the distant sound of what seemed to be a stripped down "Baba O'Riley" coming through the speakers. The lights went down and Pearl Jam came strolling out. A couple of riffs later and I could tell it was "Breakerfall!" This was great live. They thundered through this song with Ed barking the lyrics.
Next up was "Whipping." I hadn't heard live this since Detroit '94. Mike was flying around his side of the stage laughing and pointing to people. Then came "Spin the Black Circle" and "Hail, Hail." Man, these guys were cranking on all cylinders. "Corduroy" was next and the crowd erupted. This song has always seemed like a staple and crowd favorite.
After Corduroy, Mike started flirting with this blonde a couple of seats over from me. He threw her a pick and it went right through her hands. The next song started out with a rhythmic drumbeat and I thought to myself, "Who You Are?" Nope, it was "In My Tree," a very welcomed surprise. Next up was "Dissident," and the crowd roared back to life.
Somewhere in here Ed addressed the crowd by saying something like, "I know there are a lot of colleges around this area . . . It's nice to be playing for a bunch of intellectuals tonight."
The band continued on with a fantastic rendition of "GTF." Everyone was singing along, especially to the "Arms wide open with the sea as his floor," line. "Nothing As It Seems" was very mellow and cool. I loved "Grievance" (a great anti-corporate anthem) with Ed strumming along fiercely and Stone bobbing his head. "Light Years" and "Daughter" followed and Mike threw out a handful of picks at his favorite blonde. One went whizzing through my hand, but to no avail.
Ed spoke to the crowd again briefly, while strapping on his guitar and introduced the next song as a "Sing along." "What could it be?" I wondered." "Lukin" comes bleeding through the amps. Ya gotta love Ed's sarcastic humor.
Before I knew it, they were halfway though the set and no big Mike solos yet. I figured I would hold up my shirt while Mike was going crazy on a solo. "Wishlist" was next and Ed had no problems with the e-bow tonight. That mirrorball was just the right touch for this song. "Off He Goes" followed and the crowd seemed to relax and settle in.
Jeff was really calm tonight. There were no 4" jumps. . . He was all business. Stone was pretty much the same. He walked around his area a little, but for the most part he and Jeff looked a little tired. Ed started this classical little jam before he led into "Betterman," another huge crowd favorite. I was kind of tired of this song. I loved it and all, but I could have thought of a few songs to substitute for it.
"SOLAT" was next and here was my chance! Ed was grabbing the microphone stand tightly through the lyrics and then Mike went into a solo on the edge of the stage. I held my "McCready for President" shirt up and I could see Ed reading it. He smiled and immediately motioned for me to throw it up to him. I wadded it up into a ball and flung it right at him. It hit Ed right in the face and he jokingly stumbled backward. He gave me a quick look and took off his white shirt, exposing the Dead Moon sleeveless T. He was about to put my shirt on, when the song ended. Ed dropped the shirt next to his mic stand and began singing, "All in all it's no one's fault." It was a kick-ass version of "Insignificance." This was one of my favorites on the new album! I was a little disheartened that he didn't put on the shirt, but oh well. Next up was "Rearviewmirror." Matt was just pounding away on those drums. It seemed like no PJ show could be complete without this song. They ended the song and everyone walked off stage. Ed said, "Thanks," grabbed his notebook and my shirt, and walked off stage.
They came back out a few minutes later and the crowd was screaming loudly with a ton of lighters flickering all over the place. Ed stepped up to the mic with my shirt still draped on his shoulder. He said something like, "Jesus Christ there's a lot of you! There's enough people here to start a revolution. Somebody threw this up on stage." Then he holds up my shirt so the crowd and cameras could see it. The whole place applauded. I could not believe it! Ed goes on to say, "I'd vote for him. It would be good to have a president that knew how to play Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Van Halen! Of course, we'd have to put touring on hold." He then pointed out a "Nader" shirt and said, "Someone over here (about 15 rows up from Stone) had a Ralph Nader shirt. That's more realistic." He then went on to talk about how we should vote if we want to be able to bitch about things. Later he said, "Speaking of the president-elect, Mike and I are starting this next song . . . here's some presidential advice for you," and they began to play "Present Tense!" It was the greatest feeling! Not only did I get my shirt up there, but Ed talked about it and then lead into a song I have never heard live. It was a very intense and moving version of PT.
With the rest of the band back out, they launched into "Last Exit" and "Once." These were both high energy versions. Next came "Small Town" and the crowd went wild.
"Leatherman" and "Nothingman" were next up with Ed swigging from his wine bottle and then giving a pick to a woman in the front row. Another huge highlight was a great version of "Porch." I could never get tired of this song. Even Jeff got a little pumped up for this one, doing one of his patented wide spread legs/leaning backward moves. Near the end, Ed looked at Mike before hoisting him up on his shoulders and carrying him across the stage.
The band left the stage and I was sure they'd comeback and give us a little "Baba." Not tonight, however. They all came back out and went into "real" sing along, "Last Kiss." PJ then closed the night with a pretty good version of "Yellow Ledbetter." President-elect McCready went on a solo tear at the end. He was playing for a good three to four minutes after the rest of the band had all but walked of stage. Ed & Stone stood near Stone's amp admiring Mike's work and laughing, probably about how long he was carrying on for.
28 songs! It was a great night I will not soon forget (no pun intended). I even got one of Mike's pics he threw out near the end of the show. The guys looked a little beaten, but sounded great. What a night, what a show . . . what a pain in the ass getting out of that parking lot!
© 2000 Jon Kovalcik
photos © Jonathan Cohen & Jon Kovalcik