So I have always wanted to see Pearl Jam live. My dad was a bit of a surrogate Gen Xer in the 90's and I was exposed at a young age to some really awesome music, including the aforementioned leaders of the Seattle alternative rock scene. So I've wanted to see them for, oh, about 15 years now. This week that dream actually came true.
BF is a member of the Ten Club, Pearl Jam's fan club, and he has been for about 7-8 years now. Ten club members get the chance to buy tickets to upcoming concerts about a month in advance of regular ticket sales, with one caveat - you have no idea what seats you've got until you show up the day of the show and pick up your tickets. For most shows, the seats are assigned by seniority within the Club. For the two shows in Camden this week, there were a handful of rows whose seats were assigned by lottery. Rows 1, 2, 9 and 10. Excellent seats.
So for the first night - my first Pearl Jam show!!! - we got the regular Ten Club seats and ended up with decent, though not amazing seats. It was still an incredible experience. The fans at a PJ show are incredible. Eddie (vedder, frontman extraordinaire) is amazing and at least two or three times just let the crowd take over the song, hitting every lyric, every note right on. The set list was great. With a band that's been around since the early 90's the catalogue of songs is so huge that there can be some serious variation in the set lists and this one was great, with some good obscure shit thrown in with the tried and true fan favorites like "Evenflow" "Dissident" and "Crazy Mary". I left elated, even if I couldn't speak after screaming along with the band all night.
Night two turned out to be an experience I had never even guessed I would have ever gotten to have. We picked up our tickets at will-call, looked at them and Holy Shit! Second Row Pitt Section tickets. After going inside and picking up that evenings poster (each nights poster is unique and collectible and artsy goodness), getting some souvenirs (including a free Pearl Jam drawstring back-pack, tee shirt, and the DVD from the Italian leg of their last European tour) and some drinks, we went to see our fabulous seats with about two hours to go until PJ hit the stage.
We get to our seats and it turns out that Row 2, at that point, is the Front Row. Nothing between us and the stage but a barricade, which our kindly stage guy tells us we're welcome to spend the evening standing against (and we definitely took him up on that one). We were slightly to the left of the center section with a totally unobscured view of the band for the whole show. Before we left for Jersey that afternoon I had been a bit apprehensive about how well I was going to hold up physically. I had wreaked some serious havoc on my left ankle the previous night and had had to use the portable oxygen a couple times during the first show, I was also tired to begin with. And once again, my good friend adrenaline kicked in beautifully and I spent the entire night standing against that barrier, singing at the top of my lungs, in a state of pure elation...Eddie Vedder was Right There! I did have to spend the entire second half of the show with the oxygen backpack on and pumping, but hey, whatever it takes.
So today I'm still in a state of disbelief. It really was real and I'll even put up the blurry cell phone pictures to prove it, but the feeling of providence is awesome. My luck as of late has been both awful and insanely great. I've been diagnosed with a terminal disease, but I've been surrounded by love and support, gotten some good job opportunities, and now this, this night that I will never ever forget. I felt blessed. I felt hopeful for the first time in a month. When Eddie sang "Alive" after the second encore break, I sang like my life depended on it because "I'm still alive!" and I'm going to stay that way for as long as my resolve and modern medicine can keep it that way and I'm going to try to hold on to that night, that hope, and that attitude.