An Evening with Pearl Jam & Other Stories {Part 2}

We went to see Pearl Jam in Chicago a couple weekends ago. If you missed the back story of our journey to Chicago/our field seats at Wrigley, go ahead and get caught up.

When we last left our heroic couple, they were just getting to their seats on Wrigley Field in the 103 degree Chicago sun.

View of the stage from our seats.

View of the stage from our seats.

The original plan had us arriving by 3:30 local time, picking up our tickets, and having a nice dinner before the concert. Because we didn’t get there until after 6pm and the concert’s start time was 7:30, we decided we would just do concession food.

And then we hit the wall of people.  When we finally found our seats, we figured someone could get food if they ever went to the bathroom.  If you are following along, you will remember that I was diagnosed with a pretty ugly UTI that afternoon, so we all knew who that “someone” going to the bathroom was going to be.

Since it was already after 7:30 by the time I had to pee (thank goodness the meds kicked in quickly and I wasn’t dying from pee urges), I hustled to find one that wasn’t a Port-o-John. I also wanted to find a real concession stand because we wanted water, not beer (which was all they sold on the field).  The concession stand actually had food too, but since I was trying to hurry and not miss anything, I figured I would come back later for pretzels and hot dogs.

I should have just gotten the food.

The concert didn’t end up starting until 8:18pm.

We are at Pearl Jam!

We are at Pearl Jam! And it’s HOT out!

I should probably take a minute to tell you about the people around us.

First there were the guys behind us who had never heard of the song “Bugs”.  Pearl Jam has only played it live three times, but it’s not a rarity. It’s on the Vitalogy album. I shook my head a lot listening to those guys.

The guy next to Cort was a backer-upper and kept trying to crowd Cort out, which in turn crowded me into the old hippie next to me.  Speaking of the old hippie, he was with what I assumed was his teenage son.  His teenage son kept talking about the Kardashians and TMZ.

The couple in front of us had the never-ending joint.  Seriously.

They smoked from the first note to the last 2am.

They smoked from the first note to the last note…at 2am.

I get that the pot happens at concerts, but they smoked so much I was starting to get a queasy feeling from smelling sewage weed all night on empty stomachs.

So anyway, the concert started at 8:18pm

There's some Eddie Vedder on the screen!

There’s some Eddie Vedder on the screen!

They started out nice and mellow opening with “Release”, a song that, since having depression and anxiety, has come to mean much more to me than it did in my teen  years.

Eddie Vedder let us know that since they were in it with us for the long haul, they were pacing themselves. They then played “Nothingman”, “Present Tense” (it was during this song that I pointed out the irony of Vedder singing about living in the present tense with a bunch of faces stuck down in their phones. It was sad), “Hold On”, “Low Light”, “Come Back” (which always reminds me of my father-in-law), and “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”.

This was when someone started talking in Vedder’s ear and he announced that there was a major storm with high winds and lots of lightening moving in.  According to the weather watchers at the airport, it was about 30 minutes out and they wanted to use that time to evacuate anyone on the field in case something on the stage would break and fall during the storm.

So just like that we were herded into the concords and under the bleachers.

This is where my previous trip to the bathroom came in handy.

Most people seemed to huddle under the bleachers just as they entered the concord, but I told Cortney if we pushed on, we could be near a concession stand and the bathrooms.

We also ended up near a gate, so we got some fresh air and could watch the storm come in.

It was really hot under there. The next day I heard reports that people had been passing out, and I remembered seeing paramedics run by us every so often. Luckily, where we were, there was a nice breeze once the winds picked up and the rain started.

It was crowded in the land of the PJ fan storm camps.

It was crowded in the land of the PJ fan storm camps.

You would think we would take this opportunity to eat, but here is the thing. First, the concessions around us started running out of food (although they sold beer the entire time).  Secondly, while we stood there hating our life (by this time it was about 9:30pm with no end in sight to the evacuation), Cort promised me a big old spread of room service when we got back.  That ALWAYS sounds better than scouting out the last stadium hot dog.

So we waited for the storm.  When it finally hit (almost an hour into the evacuation), we stayed in contact with our friend Erin who was in the top bowl, under the canopy. She let us know what was going on in the land of the above ground people.

I also thought of my friend Keely who was not sheltered…unless she went inside during the storm.

She later told me they went inside during the storm.

She later told me they went inside during the storm.

We watched the storm. It really was about a 30-minute storm, but by that time it was after 10pm. The curfew for concerts is 11pm. While Eddie Vedder had said they got the curfew extended, we wondered how far out they could possibly have given them.

At 11pm (remember it was midnight est by this time) we were sore (there was no where to sit since the ground was wet from spilled beer and leaked rain water), hungry, tired, and crabby.

We were starting to wonder if they were just going to call it a night.  And maybe we were hoping they would.

Finally around 11:30 we got word that people were being let out on the field, that the soundboard had been unwrapped, and that the speakers were going back up on the stage.

By 11:45 we were being herded back to our seats.  At one point, Cortney (who was behind me in all this  herding) rubbed by arm with his hand. As I whipped my head to the side I growled, “Cort, that better be you or someone is getting punched in the crotch.”  The poor guy next to me threw his hands up to prove it wasn’t him.  We all laughed it off, but that guy found his way away from me fast.

By midnight (1am est), the concert had started again.

There is still MORE to this story, so I will give you Part III (the conclusion) next week. Until then, party on.

An Evening with Pearl Jam & other Stories. {Part 1}

It is 103 degree and humid, but thankfully we found a spot near one of the gates that at least gets some air movement.  Others were not so lucky, choosing to camp out in the concords. The next day I heard that people had been passing out from the heat down there.

Our legs and backs ached from having been standing in the same place for so long. It was almost 11pm (midnight eastern–which our bodies were on).

How did we get here?

It started out innocently. Months ago Cortney got us tickets to An Evening with Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field in Chicago. No opening bands; just Pearl Jam.  In Wrigley.

I don’t have the space here to tell you what long-time fans we (mostly Cortney) are. I’ll just say this: I currently have over 40 days straight of music in my itunes on my computer. This is only a fraction of the music we actually own because I don’t have the space (or the desire) to have months worth of live Pearl Jam on my machine.  Before we saved our music on hard drives, you could see a 500-disc holder in our basement at LEAST a third of the way filled with live Pearl Jam.

Cortney is in the fan club. Since, like, the beginning of time.


Eddie Vedder (lead singer of Pearl Jam) is a giant Cubs fan. He has always said playing at Wrigley would be the epitome. Clearly playing a baseball field in July is hard to book. But they did, and we got tickets.

It was going to be our “month-late-anniversary-trip.” Our “no-kids-relaxing-fun-weekend.”

Our seats were right on the field (thank you, Fan Club).

Cortney took Friday off from work, secured my parents to watch the boys for the afternoon and over night, booked us a hotel near the train, and had everything planned out to leave by 1pm Est.  That would give us time to get there, check in, have a nice dinner and pick up our tickets and Will Call, and the find our seats since the concert start time was 7:30 CT.

The plan was awesome. It was “best laid”.  And we all know what they say about the best laid plans?

Yeah.  They go right to hell in a hand basket.

First, I woke up on Friday to a bladder infection. I called the doc and they can get me in…at 2pm est. An hour after we planned to leave.

“It’s Ok,” Cortney said, “get it taken care of. They are usually fast, especially on a Friday.”

At 1pm, Cort left to take the boys to my parents’ house. I finished our packing and headed out to my appointment early.

Short, cotton dress since it's going to be a thousand degrees...with a chance of thunderstorms.

Short, cotton dress since it’s going to be a thousand degrees…with a chance of thunderstorms.

They got me in early!  Yay!  Things are looking up!  Within 15 minutes I am seen and meds are called in and I am out of there.

To give the pharmacy time to process my script, I caledl Cort to tell him I’m done already, hit the bathroom (because, hello, UTI), and then went to the pharmacy. By the time I got there, it had been 15 minutes since the prescription was sent in, so it should have been waiting.

It wasn’t. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited…a full 30 minutes (45 minutes after the script had been received). I watched other people come and go. I watched the pharmacist leave his job to chat with someone about OTC meds.

Finally I got up and asked, “how much longer? and may I use your bathroom? I am waiting on meds for a BLADDER INFECTION!”

When I got back from the bathroom, I waited five more minutes and it was ready. I may have asked to speak to the pharmacist and I may have told them we are switching pharmacies because of their piss poor service.

In the meantime, Cortney had gotten the boys off to my parents and he had stopped to buy me cranberry juice.

We left for Chicago around 3:30pm est.  Finally.

I only needed to stop to pee four times during the 150 mile trip. I count that as winning.

And then, 10 miles from our hotel, we hit this:

Chicago traffic around 5:30 local time.

Chicago traffic around 5:30 local time.

Our GPS (who we have named Judy Garmin. Don’t ask) told us that it was 10 minutes to our hotel with a minute delay due to traffic. I had to pee (again), but decided to hold it because…10 minutes. Right?

Um. Yeah.

Oh and as we sat there? We noticed this:

Cort is imagining sitting on a ball field in this heat.

Cort is imagining sitting on a ball field in this heat.

So an hour later, we finally get to our hotel (I ran to pee as Cort got our luggage and talked to the valet), check in, and by then it was  closing on 6:30 local time. We had to make like a baby and head out…quick!

The view from out hotel

The view from out hotel

I left my meds in the room because, well, we will be back by midnight for me to take the next dose and I really don’t want to carry my precious pee meds around Chicago.

The red line was like four steps from out hotel, so we jumped on and headed to Wrigley.

Holy. People. Batman.

Now I don’t know who organized the gig, if it was Pearl Jam’s people or the Wrigley people, but getting in was a shit show.

Field access people (us) had one entrance. Seemed legit. Until we walked all the way around the dang field to the one Field Access Entrance and as soon as we got in it mooshed us with the non-field people at a stand immediately in the entrances so we could get a wrist band that proved we could have field access.

To say it felt like I was in a mosh pit is an understatement.

People pushed and shoved to get to the TWO people putting wristbands on.  Why they couldn’t have done this as we went in the FIELD ACCESS entry, I have no idea.

We were hot and sweaty, but we had wrist bands, so we went to find out seats.

View of the stage from our seats.

View of the stage from our seats.

This ends part one. This story is too long to continue in one post. Stay tuned for music, storms, and being crushed on the Red Line in the next installment.


a little bit rock n roll

I have one of those poster-sized frames in my classrooms behind my desk, and at least once a week (because why would my class all pay attention at once and get the info once), someone asks me what all the tickets in it are for.

I love to talk about those tickets.

They are the ticket stubs of every concert I have ever gone to that required a ticket.

In order.

Filling up almost the entire poster frame (four columns and many, many rows).

Inevitably, someone wanders up to the poster and gasps, “wait, you went to these concerts???”


The first ones are all wrinkled and faded, but I can still remember them, even sitting here at my kitchen table.

The very first one is a pink and blue ticket master stub from 1994.

My aunt had tickets to see Aerosmith at The Palace in Auburn Hills (near Detroit), but ended up with better tickets.  Knowing I was a HUGE fan even at the age of 15, she offered to sell me and my high school boyfriend the tickets.

Surprisingly, my mom thought it was a good idea too.

In fact, I remember my mom saying, “I like Aerosmith.  They seem to be a good, clean band.”

Yeah, I’ll give you a minute to chuckle at that too.

My mom is a sweetie. Naive, but sweet.

(and yes, I would use this later in life to go to many, many more concerts of bands that she thought were “nice” by what she heard on the radio.  Sorry, mom.  It’s true.  LOVE YOU!)

That Aerosmith concert was the first time I got to road trip with a boy (yes, he brought me home back across the state after the concert.  I was a GOOD girl.  Shut up, I really was.), the first time I got beer spilled on me, the first time I smelled pot, the first time I realized that live bands meant lots and lots of f words in the middle of songs I never heard f words in before.

It was also my first concert T-shirt.  So I could prove the next day as I sleepily went through my day (that was mom’s rule: you may go, but NO skipping school because you are tired) that I was there.  That I saw the LIVE.

That concert launched an all out addiction.

Because I have always been a rather eclectic music lover, my concert-going past shows that.  Much to some people’s surprise.  Here is a quick list of just SOME of the bands I’ve seen (some more than once…some more than three times)….

Tom Petty
Dave Matthews Band
Type O Negative
Ben Folds Five
Pearl Jam (countless times, really)
Marilyn Manson
Stone Temple Pilots
Foo Fighters
Corrosion of Conformity
Clutch (also countless times)
Neil Young
Nine Inch Nails
Rusted Root
Limp Bizkit
Bare Naked Ladies

And so many more…I can’t even think of them all…

Mind you, I wasn’t much of a passive concert-goer either.

No way.  It only took me about two “general admission” concerts to realize A) they are my favorite way to see live music and B) I am much better (and tougher) on my own.

In case you didn’t figure it out, I have never been much of a risk-taker.  Never.  I like to play it safe and follow rules.

Oh, I talk the big talk and can get nasty if  have to, but I would much rather just get through my life without confrontation and drama.

And as a teenager, I wasn’t much of a rebel.

I didn’t drink, smoke, or do any drugs (ok, I drank AND smoked in college, but the smoking was short-lived and more of a check-me-out-being-a-rebel-thing.  I was really to afraid of cancer to keep smoking.  plus I was terrible at it).  I kept my curfew.  I didn’t lie to my parents (much).  I didn’t go where I knew I shouldn’t be, and I didn’t skip school.

I was the kid all the parents wanted their kid to hang out with.

Not that my friends weren’t rule-breakers, but I was the one in the group who would drive their sorry butts home and sneak them past their parents.  All the while not breaking any of my own parents’ rules.

But somehow concerts were my way to rebel.

My concert uniform became old jeans, a concert T-shirt (NOT the band I was there to see…duh), and steel-toed boots.

I did not get hooched up for a concert because that was not the point for me.

I had one goal.  To get as close as humanly possible to the front and rock out.

I always stood with my friends through the crappy openers.  We would inch our way forward, but no one pushed.  It was just standing and waiting (unless the opening band was, say, Red Hot Chili Peppers…then the pushing would commence early).

The biggest rush of my life is that minute that the arena goes pitch black and the roar of the crowd goes up to the ceiling.

I can still feel it if I close my eyes.

Before the first song even begins I used the darkness to wiggle away from my friends and slide through thick bodies to the front.

I always made it to the front.


We don’t get to many concerts anymore (the last stub I have is from 2008 before getting pregnant with Eddie), but Cort and I have fun telling stories about the ones we did go to.  I have many more stories than he has, but he likes to smile at my toughness, since he was always the guy back by the soundboard.  He didn’t need to be at the front to enjoy the live show.

But I did.  I need to see the sweat fling from the guitarist’s fingers as he rapidly assaulted the strings.

I had to be able to witness the lead singer taking a drink of his beer that was behind an amp.

It was part of the music for me.

So it makes me smile when my students…who are the same age I was when I first walked into The Palace to see Aerosmith…ask me about those stubs.

The stubs that are wrinkled and faded from being jammed in a sweaty pocket while I wormed my way through sweaty dudes and drunken chicks to get to my place at the rail in the front.

The stubs that show that yes, I was  somewhat rebellious.

Even if I did get up and go to school on time the next day.

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