It was the day I had been waiting for for almost a year. I was finally going to see Pearl Jam live. I had a feeling it would be a great day, and for the most part, I was right.
For the most part.
First, a little information on the concert goers in our group (the height and weight DO matter):
We left for Barrie from Toronto at noon. My father drove us, because we are only 14 and it's easier than taking the bus. Martin made a relatively large sticker which read, "The Spanish Pearl Jam Fiesta Van", which was stuck on one of the rear windows of the Plymouth Grand Voyager. We received many honks from others attending the show, believe you me =).
- Jordan Ginsberg, the 5'5.5" 135 pound 14 year old who is constantly criticized by most of his friends for being so obsessed with the band.
- Tyler, the 6'0", 169 pound 14 year old who is who can imitate the most difficult McCready solos easily on his Stratocaster.
- Marc, the 5'10", 150 pound 14 year old French guy who is constantly singing improper lyrics to Glorified G.
- Martin, the 5'4", 125 pound mandatory Mexican =)...
We arrived at Molson Park at about 1:30 p.m., and found a surprisingly short line-up. The official with the megaphone told us to open our bags, and that "... blankets, lawn chairs, throwing devices and automatic weapons are not allowed in". We entered, and went directly to the merchandise stand, and bought a bit of everything. They had the (shitty) "ticket system" for food, and it was incredibly expensive. $2.50 for a 655 mL bottle of Sprite? Give me a fucking break. Anyway, we got our food and sat behind a beer tent where there was shade. After taking that little break from the sun, we took a walk to the various kiosks of art and fanzines, many of which were quite interesting. Examples of the 'zines titles are, "Ew, you're a girl and girls suck", "Punk Rock enthusiast", and "C.U.N.T", while the art exhibition had many an interesting artist, including body art, and some guy in his underwear.
At 3:00, All Systems Go came on the second stage, and played an, in my opinion, unremarkable set. I think they may have been better if they had better vocals. Later, Hayden came on. This guy has got to be the most boring friggin' musician on earth. However, partway through his set, Pearl Jam went on the main stage and played their soundcheck consisting of Corduroy, I Got Shit and MFC for everyone to hear. It was great, and I could tell at that point the actual show would be bloody amazing. At some point (I wasn't even keeping track anymore at this time), the Matthew Good Band came on and played a somewhat better set than the other bands. Still, I wasn't terribly impressed. We had gone to Gate Six and waited for the doors to open. Cracker came on, but I'm pretty sure there was next to no one watching, as I saw a shitload of people waiting at the gates.
All of a sudden, the gates opened.
The stampede began.
I saw at least ten people trip and fall, while others just walked and sat down further back. My friends and I, however, were among the runners. When we got to the stage, we were shocked out of our pants that we were Second Row (more or less, anyway). We talked with two guys beside us for a while, mainly about what great spots these were, and how we couldn't believe we were going to see our first Pearl Jam concert from this close, yada yada yada.
Cheap Trick hit the stage at about 6:30. They were actually better than I had expected, although the lead singer's (I'll be damned if I could remember his name) voice actually hurt my ears at some points. One of the guys we were talking to had taken off his shirt, and was swinging it around in the air yelling at the top of his lungs "SURRENDER!!! SURRENDER!!!", to which the band all smiled. Pearl Jam's members were all visible at the side of the stage, Mikey and Jeff taking pictures from the left, while Ed was at the right of the stage. Actually, Ed's presence created a bit of a problem for Cheap Trick at one point. He was swinging from the scaffolding, and drinking beer or wine, which prompted the Pit-crowd to shout "ED-DIE!!! ED-DIE!!!". The Cheap Trick guitarist - who had been throwing handfuls of picks into the crowd all night - jokingly yelled into his mic, "EDDIE WHO?". "The Trick" finally played Surrender, which, when finished, prompted our shirtless friend to yell, "I HEARD MY SONG, NOW GET OFF OF THE STAGE YOU OLD BASTARDS!!!". They played one more song, then left the stage. They were actually really well received, I heard hardly any boos. However, you know what a crowd is thinking when they cheer more for Eddie swinging at the side of the stage than for band on the stage.
We spoke to the guys around us again for about fifteen minutes, still talking about our great spots, and the band that the two guys were in, "Flood". It was really a lot of fun.
Then the pushing began.
For thirty minutes prior to Pearl Jam's set, Tyler, Marc, Martin, and myself were working hard to keep our spots from the pushing idiots. Did I mention this was our first time in a mosh pit? Now, please refer to our heights and weights. Then, the band came on the stage.
The pit got worse.
We were still having fun at this point, but it was getting tough. Then Corduroy began. The pit was moving quickly and harshly. Then the heavy part started.
The ass-kicking began. I could barely stand up, let-alone enjoy myself. It seemed as though Ed's voice was very high-pitched, but it could have just been me. The song was drawing to a close, and I was praying for a slow song so I could get out of the pit.
BRAIN OF J
FUCK!!! I was yelling at the top of my lungs, "GET ME UP AND OUT OF HERE!!!", and I was elevated. I was crowd-surfing, but they were putting me the wrong way. And then,
They fucking dropped me.
I got up as quickly as I could, trying to move. I prayed for a slow song. I did not want to be in this any longer. Please God, a slow song.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!!!!! I was swimming through people, just getting killed. I was yelling, "GET ME UP!!!" as loud as I possibly could, and they got me up again. This time I was going quickly, but backwards again. I tried to turn myself the right way, but;
They fucking dropped me. Again.
I couldn't believe it. I could barely breathe, and when I did it was smoke and dust. The pit finally slowed down, and I had this fucking asshole blowing these shit-ass weed hits in my face. He was stoned off his ass, I wasn't even fucking tingly. I thought they would do something slow. I really did. It seemed like they wanted to slow the pit down a bit. I knew I'd be able to get out on a slow song.
FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! I just about gave up. Then finally Some guy from behind me put me up for a third time, but it was short lived. They got me to the middle and then, that's right, you guessed it;
THEY FUCKING DROPPED ME AGAIN!!!
I could not fucking believe it. It was horrible. I was eating fucking dirt. I was practically crawling. I think I might have blacked-out, because before I knew it, they were half-way through...
I knew I was closer to the front. I knew I couldn't see Tyler, Martin, or Marc. And I knew that there was a huge, strong hand on my shoulder.
A huge, strong, black hand.
It was the hand of Pete.
He lifted me right out of there, and I just shook his hand and thanked him. I stumbled off of the platform, hearing many comments from the crowd including, "Look at that fucking kid", "PUSSY!!!", "Hey man, are you alright?", and "THAT'S WHAT YOU GET, PANSY!!!". I noticed that Tyler, Marc and Martin were over to the side of the stage, and I continued to stumble over towards them, at which point I fell over. I actually fell over; it wasn't a fake. I woke up to Dissident still playing, and Marc pouring water on my head. He had bought five bottles of water, and was going back to buy more. After he had come back, we went out into the lawn and found a great spot with a perfect view of the stage.
GIVEN TO FLY
Now I was enjoying the show. I was breathing fresh air, and I didn't have thousands of drunken frat-boys kicking my ass all over the place. This song is fucking awesome normally, but live it's a force to be reckoned with, and with Matt Cameron on the drums, it's even more fucking awesome. I can't even express it properly in words. Matt just transforms this song into something more than incredible.
Very cool. No big surprises, but very energetic and fast-paced. Here I found out that my friends were all out of the pit by the time Brain of J was over, and I slap them for leaving me in there =).
I wasn't expecting this one, but it was a nice surprise. It comes off WAY better live than it does on the album. The "Speaking as..." part is "Speaking as a dumb-ass, beer-drinking, propaganda-believing, missile-shooting American", which got a laugh out of the crowd. Very energetic, and the whole band is sounding great. Listening to taped shows might give you a bit of an idea what the live experience is like, but you never know completely unless you're there, and this version of Habit really makes you think that.
A very sweet version of Wishlist. No fancy lyric changing, but the mirrorball adds a nice effect. Once again, the drums are very noticeable, and don't really change the song per se, they just make it more powerful.
GREAT version. Very fast-paced, and I find myself belting the lyrics out at the top of my lungs without even knowing it. Martin tells me I've been doing it the entire time =). NICE solo from Mikey, and it leaves the jaws of Tyler and me gaping.
Nice version of Daughter. There was, of course, a MASSIVE sing-a-long. I'm not too big on this song, so I usually just look forward to a cool tag, which I got. First, Ed did some very interesting vocal things, and then sang the chorus to Surrender, by Cheap Trick. Still singing out loud =).
Fucking amazing. This is one of my favourite songs off of Yield, and live it takes your breath away. The only thing is, it seems as if Ed is straining to hit the high notes. A great version regardless of that, and Stone is bopping up and down like a little kid listening to Barney. The band is really connecting, and look like they're having a lot of fun playing together.
It was gonna happen sooner or later. I've never noticed before, but Jeff's twelve-string bass has an incredibly PHAT sound. It's HUGE. It's it felt like someone was pounding a bass drum in my face during the intro. Well, we got the biggest sing-a-long of the evening right here, as they played the one song that EVERYBODY knew. It was fun, though, and it was funny hearing everyone belt out "...seemed a harmless little FUCK!". I could HEAR the crowd smile throughout the song. It's still a great song, and I'm glad I got to hear it.
STATE OF LOVE AND TRUST
I heard one strum of one chord and I yelled to Tyler "STATE!!!". I just about shit my pants when they started to play it. Holyfuckingshit, there is NO song that has the energy that this song does, Mike had another amazing solo, and me and Tyler were just looking at him in awe. "They're not gonna top that", I thought to myself. Unless they play...
Motherfuckers. I saw Jeff bring out the stand-up bass, and I was thinking, "Dead man, dead man, dead man, dead man...", but this was alright by me. This song knocked me on my ass; I literally could not stand up. The raw emotion this song has could fill Russia, but Molson Park had to do. The lightning bolts were a nice effect on the backdrop.
Very nicely done version of Betterman. It could have used a "Save it for Later" tag, but I'm not complaining. One thing I must point out is that there was a ridiculous amount of couples dancing to this song. Bleccch. "Hey Ty, wanna bet they play Leatherman?"...
I love this song. It's just so much fun and so energetic, and I wanted to hear it live since I bought the Given to Fly single on January 6th. During the break, Ed does a little speech. "Today, I saw two of the coolest things here I've seen all tour. First, there was that guy wearing a watermelon on his head as a hat. Uh, we took a vote and that guy is Canadian of the year. Second, and this was THE coolest thing I've seen all tour, were the guys with the truck and the couch, cocktail tables, the fridge, like, the living room on wheels. Well, this song's about a bad-ass, and you guys in the front, and even you guys in the back, you're all bad-asses." And then the band just continued from where they left off.
Definite crowd-pleaser, and the second biggest sing-a-long of the evening. Once again, an awe-inspiring solo from Mr. McCready.
First song of the first encore, and it was fucking unbelievable. Ed prefaced it with a little speech; "Well, um, the next time we come here, we're gonna play three shows in a small venue, because this is really too much. However, there might not be a next time, because - I don't know if you know this - the Doomsday Clock was pushed ahead a few minutes, so now the Doomsday Clock is at five minutes to midnight"... the crowd is puzzled... "You don't know what that means, do you? It means you're all gonna die, FUCKERS!!!... But, I'm glad we got this show in before that happens" and they went in to Immortality. This was one of the songs that I was really hoping to hear, and I'm extremely happy to have gotten it.
Holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit... I'm sorry, but this one beats 3/5/98 all to fucking hell! I have never heard such an intense minute of music as the ending of this version of RVM... (Except for the first eight songs on the new Zeke album =))... The guitars are screaming, and Ed's vocals are soaring.
Surprised the shit out of me, but I loved it. This is another song that I was really hoping to hear, and I was just screaming the lyrics out the entire time. Ed is sounding great, and so are the other guys. Matt is just, well, to put it in Ed's words, "Everything". He OWNS this band's songs now. "Uh, Jordan, why haven't they played Evolution yet?" Tyler asked.
I GOT SHIT
This was the first Pearl Jam song I ever saw performed live (Earlier in the day at the soundcheck - I missed Corduroy =(), and I couldn't wait to see it again. It certainly did not disappoint, and there was a sweet Cinnamon Girl tag also. "Uh, Jordan, why haven't they played Evolution yet?" Tyler asked.
Best version of this song. Ever. No questions asked. Fucking amazing solo from Mr. Michael McCready, and me and Tyler are once again in awe and amazement. I wanted this show on tape, but after hearing Black I NEED this show on tape. "Uh, Jordan, why haven't they played Evolution yet?" Tyler asked. Pearl Jam answered.
DO THE EVOLUTION
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Okay, I think I've found a song that rivals SOLAT's energy. The new video playing on the backdrop was great, although I've already seen it (us lucky Canucks =)). I LOVE this song, and seeing it live, well, I don't know, it just knocks you on your ass. DEFINITE highlight. Loved every minute of it.
Last song played, and it was played nicely. Ed first came out and thanked us for being such a great crowd, and taking such good care of each other. It was great seeing 35,000 people singing their own versions of their lyrics all at once.
- In Hiding
- Ed's LEATHERMAN speech
- Ed's IMMORTALITY speech
- Ed catching the football and kicking it back out
- Ed being hit by a shoe during Ledbetter, then just shrugging it off and paying no attention to the guy
All in all, it was great. It was my first Pearl Jam show, and it definitely won't be my last. Why, 'cause I'm going to PHILLY, BABY! See you there!
- No Lowlight
- No No Way
- Getting pummeled in the pit for the first 5 songs
- The idiots who threw stuff on stage
- No Present Tense
[Be sure to check out another Toronto perspective, courtesy MFC regular Confucius....]