we all walk
the long road
west leg summary ramblings
For the first time in my life, I got to follow Pearl Jam on a real fucking TOUR. Not just a few random dates, a proper tour.
What's always fascinating to me is to watch the progression of things, whether I'm there or I'm reading about it. Here are some random thoughts and observations that occurred to me along the way....
God, this band is HAPPY: Have you ever seen them so truly happy onstage? Have you ever seen them all smile so goddamn much? Except for occasional stupid crowds, the sullen Eddie, the hiding-facing-the-band Stone, the stone-faced Jeff, all of these characters we'd grown used to seeing were GONE. Vanished. In their place were five guys having a blast playing their music live. And it made a tremendous difference. They were tight, they were loose, they were just playing better than they ever have in their lives.
The end of the general admission crap: The Ten Club and reserved seating ensured that for most of the dates this leg of the tour, the front rows (if not the entire floor in some cases) were filled with people who were excited out of their minds to be that close to the band. Most of the people down front would never be there, or have the chance to get that close, if the show had been general admission. So, for a change, the audience down front was actually representative of the band's audience; old, young, kids, adults, men, women. Not just a bunch of burly frat boys banging people around. The band feeds off the crowd's energy, and the energy was richer, sparklier, less dark for that reason. Of course, reserved seating also meant that scalpers could sell tickets to people who didn't care, but those seemed to be few and far between, quite honestly.
I know some of my dearest friends will vehemently disagree with me, but the four general admission shows I witnessed (Vegas, Sacto, Seattle) were bad, really bad. Unruly crowds, people getting hurt. I understand that GA allows people who would never get to be down there to be down there, but if everyone was like my friends, there wouldn't be a problem. That's not the case, however. Seattle II, there were 100 people in the first aid tent within the first 20 minutes, me among them. That's a lot.
The stats: There were 22 shows, and 511 songs played. The longest show was Seattle II, with 27 songs played.
What I didn't hear that I wanted to: Indifference, Around the Bend, Low Light, No Way, All Those Yesterdays, Sonic Reducer, My Generation, Release, Behind Blue Eyes [oops, typo!], Breath (still trying!). Some of these were played, I just didn't get to see them; others weren't at all. [Yet. =)]
What should have been played more: Mankind, Faithfull (I posited that we got "In Hiding" or "Faithfull", never both, and the setlist I got in Portland confirmed that!), Once, Present Tense [that one's for Jean].
What I got to hear that I never expected to: Footsteps, Smile, Throw Your Arms Around Me, Baba O'Riley, RITFW, Fucking Up, Nothingman, Oceans, Pilate.
Songs I think it's time to lose: Betterman, Jeremy.
[Note: These are personal observations. You may or may not agree.]
Enduring memories, or what i see when I close my eyes and think of this tour:
Best quotes of the tour:
- Jeff's jumps during DTE
- Those five little drum hits of Matt's in "Evenflow"
- Eddie drinking beer out of a sneaker in Sacto
- Eddie in the crowd in Vancouver
- Eddie picking up the tambourine in Vancouver, just before "Baba"
- the Stone Gossard Exotic Dance during "Fucking Up" in St. Louis
- Mike McCready playing with his eyes closed, leaning back, enraptured, every single fuckin' show.
- "Throw Your Arms Around Me" at Seattle II
Miscellaneous notes that have less to do with the shows, and more with the details:
- "Hey, how do you like my hair?" - Stone, St. Louis
- "..What I want to know is, how many days did it take for man to create god?" - EV, Kansas City
- Eddie's RITFW rant in San Diego
- "Matt is everything." - EV, Seattle I
- "This one's dedicated to the birds ... and people who think like 'em." - EV, Seattle II
- "We're gonna kick it up a notch here - with me!" - Stone, before "Mankind," Seattle II
- "Hey, that's Mike McCready, he just walked by me. Mike McCready just walked by me. That's fuckin' Mike McCready, jesus christ!" - EV, Seattle II
Where to sit: Lots of people this tour have seats side-stage or even behind the stage. I have to testify and tell you that both of those options are AWESOME, and are far better than being in the 50th row on the floor (when all you'll see is the tops of the guys' heads). There is a backdrop, yes, but they are *very* conscious of keeping it at a level that the people behind can see. So do not fret.finally, some lesser known stats:
Upgrade: People keep writing and asking me how I manage to upgrade "so easily," or ask me what the magic formula is that I recite to the box office. It is NOT easy; it takes patience and persistence, and there is not one magic formula. I just leave out all the hours of waiting and watching and asking.
Photographs: The photography policy has FINALLY been defined as "no detachable lenses". So point-and-shoot cameras and disposables are okay! We get a LOT of questions about taking photos of PJ at shows. If you already know what you're doing, don't read this, but if you don't, here's our advice:
Our old friend, the taping policy: Well, after making some noise earlier in the tour, it seemed as though that things had worked themselves out, only to have massive problems in Seattle. And at every single show this tour, there is someone out there who can tell you their horror story of taping with a hand-held walkman and being dragged out in the middle of the show.
- You need a flash: Yes, traditional photography wisdom (or if you ask a pro) will tell you not to use your flash, because you will be too far away for it to illuminate the stage. This is 100% true. However, if you cannot set the shutter speed manually, and the camera is automatic, if you turn the flash off, the shutter will not stay open long enough to let enough light in, and your photos will be blurry or dark as a result. The light meter in your camera is not a spot meter, no matter what anyone tells you. All the photos on 5h were taken with flash, so decide for yourself.
- The mirror ball: I'm not going to tell you to not try to take a photo when the mirror ball comes down, because everyone does. just don't expect anything to come out, flash or no flash. =)
- Foolproof instructions: Save your film for "Yellow Ledbetter" and/or "Alive" when the houselights are on the crowd, there's tons of light, you will get something decent. (And again, use the flash, just in case).
- "I don't want to piss the band off": A noble sentiment, but if you're in the 20th row (or even in the first row), there is so much light going on onstage that you'll be nothing more than a firefly.
We'd encourage the PJ organization to further define the external mic policy (just like they did with the cameras); small does not equal cheap; external mics do not equal professional bootlegger. disallow mic stands, disallow preamps and racks of equipment, but someone with an external mic and a minidisc is not pressing commercially. Go after those guys who handed out the business cards after the show saying, "want a cd of this show? write..." [And don't ask us for the address, either.]
One thing that we noticed is that the expectations for what is and isn't allowed was set too late; one hour before the gate opens is not the time to try to communicate to an entire security crew that tape recording is okay. Why not do it ahead of time? =)
Soundchecks: Well, I got to hear only two soundchecks this tour, and I didn't die. I had hoped to hear more, but if it was a choice between hanging out with my friends and talking, and pressing my ear up against a door, I always took the former. I hope to be a little more motivated on the East Leg.
Soundchecks can happen anywhere from the day before (Seattle) until 5pm night of show. Can you get inside? Legally, no. Don't expect to ask for entrance and get it. You can press your ear up against a door, you can find an open door and sit next to it, and if it's an outdoor venue, well, doh. =)
[Thanks to Veggie Boy for the stats above - which are a j-o-k-e!]
- Gallons of gas used by the tour busses: 4034
- Crowd surfers (estimate): 1034938 (includes repeat offenders)
- Times chants of "Eddie" arose from the crowd: 205
- Gallons of beer/wine consumed by Ed while on stage: 45
- Shoes thrown: 1046 (946 of which in Sacramento)
- Smiles because of PJ on this tour: immeasurable
At the end of the day, that's what it's all about: don't it make you smile? If it doesn't, it should! See ya in a few weeks. =)
Copyright © 1998 Caryn Rose