Three years ago, in 103 degree heat, while rocking a UTI, and then being evacuated for three hours due to a wicked lightning storm and high winds, Cortney and I saw Pearl Jam at Wrigley. It was epic for a number of reasons. Clearly. In fact it took THREE blog posts to write all about it.
Things went much more smoothly this year, but not at first.
We were about an hour or so into our drive in pretty stormy weather (my weather app told me Chicago would be done with rain that night for the show, but we would have to drive through some gnarly stuff), when my phone blew up with tornado warnings. Um. Apparently there was a tornado sighted just east of where we were driving. Since the weather was moving quickly to the east, we decided to stay on the road and keep driving (sorry, mom!). Then I checked Facebook and saw that my parents’ (who had the kids) were also under tornado warning, so I texted my mom to make sure everyone was in the basement.
Everything ended up fine; no one was swept away in a tornado, and in the end we had one of the quickest trips into Chicago we have ever had despite the severe weather.
We got to our hotel right at 3pm for check in and then headed to the closest train station to get our tickets so we wouldn’t get stuck in the mad rush before and after the show. Then we decided that since we skipped lunch and it was close to 4:30pm our time (3:30 local), we would grab burgers at the Weber Grill.
After dinner we were super full and had some time, so we headed up to the room to refresh from the drive and get ready to head out to the show. When we left the hotel for the train, the sun was shining and we were super excited.
As soon as the train came out into the open, it was pouring rain. Thankfully, it only last a minute and by the time we found our way to the Will Call line, it had passed. Good thing because it took almost an hour in line at Will Call to get our dang tickets. Longest line EVER.
But it meant there was lots of time to people watch. Before we got there, my brother and his friend saw the drummer, Matt Cameron, walking around with his little kid. We were not that lucky, but I did see a LOT of beards and undercuts.
I also listened to a bunch of conversations because, well, it was crowded and everyone was very close. Lots of talk about the last time PJ played Wrigley and we were all evacuated for 3 hours due to the storm. Most of those stories had a lot of “dude!” in them.
The couple behind us made me realize how long we have been journeying to these shows. The guy was on the phone with what I assume was one of his parents. I heard snippets of “when you get there she will probably have to go pee pee or maybe some poops” and “at bedtime just read her a book and sing her a song. You can just make it up, but put her name in it. She will probably go to bed then, but if she says no, just say, ‘one more song and then you have to go to sleep’ and that will usually work.”
I chuckled to myself as I calculated that it had been eighteen years since my first PJ show (Alpine Valley, WI in 1998), and those were NOT the conversations I was hearing back then. At all.
One in we quickly found our way to the field where we had 4th row tickets (think right field) behind the general admission people. So, excellent seats, basically. This friends, is why Cortney keeps his fan club membership current. It pays off awesomely for shows.
My brother and sister-in-law were also there and we found them before the show. My brother, Chris (the older of my two younger brothers), was with me when we both saw our first PJ show. Again, eighteen years ago. We both confirmed that at 38 and almost 36 we were too old for general admission tickets and needed a seat for our aging booties.
They also had 4th row seats, but in left field. After the show we met them back at the Weber Grill (because it’s attached to our hotel) for drinks and snacks. It was fun to be able to have a little adult time with them since between us we have six kids.
The show started shortly after 8pm and went until just after 11pm.
The last time we were here, there was the most blown out couple of all time in front of us. This year we got The Pearl Jam Mega Fan. He remembered to pack not just his air guitar, but also his air drum set and air keyboards. He had a Tommy Boy hair cut and jumped around like House of Pain was giving him direct orders. You better know his favorite songs were the old ones from Ten that have been played to death on the radio. Dude almost lost his mind when they played “Alive.”
We were entertained.
I absolutely loved the show. Loved it. They opened with “Low Light” (after the opening chords of “Baba O’Reily”) which is one of my faves and then went into “Release”. I admit to crying. That song has always been a powerful reminder to me of how hard I fight my depression and anxiety disorders.
This is the whole set list:
- “Low Light”
- “Rain” (Beatles cover)
- “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”
- “Do The Evolution”
- “Last Exit”
- “Lightning Bolt”
- “Amongst The Waves”
- “Light Years” (Dedicated to Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip)
- “I Got Id”
- “Mind Your Manners”
- “Unthought Known”
- “Masters of War” (Bob Dylan cover)
- “I Am A Patriot” (Little Steven cover)
- “Daughter” (with the “W.M.A. tag at the end)
- “Betterman” (with the “Save it For Later” tag at the end)
- “Bee Girl”
- “Just Breathe” (had a couple on the stage: Amy and Kyle. Kyle is a serviceman and Amy surprised him with tickets, so Eddie Vedder had them on stage. Kyle proposed during the song to Amy. ADORABLE)
- “I Believe in Miracles” (Ramones cover)
- “Let Me Sleep”
- “Inside Job”
- “Comfortably Numb” (Pink Floyd cover)
- “Interstellar Overdrive” (Pink Floyd cover)
- “Surrender” (Cheap Trick cover)
- “All the Way”
- “Baba O’Riley” (The Who cover)
Cortney made the statement–I don’t think it was a complaint, but maybe a little?–that the show was “cover heavy”. That is true, they did eight covers (9 if you count the started the show with the opening of “Baba O’Riley too). He also mentioned it seemed “slow” compared to three years ago when he felt his face had been melted by the sheer rock n roll of it all.
I didn’t feel my face was melted, but I definitely enjoyed this show, maybe even more than last time because I wasn’t dying of heat, drenched from rain, or exhausted because it was almost 3am.
I would have liked to hear “Future Days” rather than “Just Breathe” and it would have been nice to get a few songs of No Code. They only played two songs off their latest album, Lightning Bolt, which I thought was surprising. More songs than I would have liked from Ten, but what can you do? People like the old stuff, I guess.
I couldn’t help but think about how Eddie Vedder used to hang from the lighting equipment during “Porch” and he even reminisced about where the song “Bee Girl” came from talking about how he used to worry about the boy from the “Jeremy” video who was only twelve at the time it came out. Lots has changed now that the band members are all around fifty instead of thirty.
And we fans aren’t teenagers anymore and have our own kids. In fact, they play another show at Wrigley tonight and my brother is bringing his eleven-year-old son with him.
But man, Pearl Jam can still fill the stadiums. The place was PACKED. And even though there were definitely some “interesting” people there, Pearl Jam fans are still, for the most part, super cool. People are kind and helpful and fun. They are devoted too! We met a couple in our hotel who was there from Florida!
If seeing Pearl Jam wasn’t awesome enough, the next morning we got to have brunch with my best friend and her husband and son who live in Chicago.
I went home a very VERY happy girl. It was the perfect way to kick off my last week of summer vacation before heading back to school for the year.
Thank you to Cortney for picking me as his date to the show!