November 29, 1991. It was the day I fell in love with Pearl Jam. I was 17, a senior in high school, and went to my first “real” concert with some friends at The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Us Chicagoans like to call it the “Aragon Brawl-room” because usually a mosh pit is involved and concerts turn into energetic expressions of physicality. The new “alternative/grunge” music in the 90s easily became some of the best music I have ever heard. What a decade!
Honestly, we were going to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers and got there early to see two lesser known bands take the stage as intro acts: Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. How many times have you skipped the opening acts because you haven’t heard of them? I didn’t realize what I was about to witness and look back to that night as being one of the best concerts I’ve ever experienced. Smashing Pumpkins were great but a bit pitchy and yelled at the crowd, turning a lot of fans off. I absolutely love their music, though. But then a band named Pearl Jam hit the stage and I was blown away. The set list was from their first album Ten and was as follows: “Release”, “Even Flow”, “Once”, “Alive”, “Jeremy”, “Why Go” and ended with my new found favorite, “Porch”. Eddie Vedder has amazing stage presence and actually jumped into the audience floating above the mosh pit. It was exhilarating and unlike any live performance I had seen. They embodied the true sense of being “organic” before that word became a household name, emitting raw musical emotion. I felt bad for The Red Hot Chili Peppers to follow after that act, but they didn’t disappoint.
I am eagerly awaiting the release of their tenth album Lightning Bolt on October 15, 2013. I have listened to and watched two of their new songs via You Tube, “Sirens” and “Mind Your Manners” to the point of exhaustion. They are both fantastic and “Mind Your Manners” reminds me a bit of “Porch” from those many years ago.
MTV Unplugged was in their second year when Pearl Jam graced their stage. I was unsure how such an electric band would be able to pull off being “unplugged” but I shouldn’t have worried, they were amazing as always. Ten is hands down, without a doubt, one of my favorite albums of all times. You know those albums that shaped a period in your life and where every song meant something to you? Ten – every song.
Mark your calendars for their new album!
Have a great weekend.