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9/28 - 9/29/96 : New York City
Downing Stadium, Randall's Island

Saturday, 9/28 | Sunday, 9/29 | Mosh pit stupidity | How I got tickets

Saturday, 9/28, 3pm

On the wrong coast, on the wrong time, driving to see my band on my old home turf. Very weird feeling. Oblivious to reality, I hit the road at 3, thinking it'd take me 45 minutes, tops, to get to Randall's Island. I'm rendezvousing with old friends by 5:30, figure I have plenty of time. Nope, instead I sat in traffic on the Major Deegan and pulled into the island around 5:30 pm. Argh. I heard the Fastbacks going through the Triborough Bridge toll. Sorry guys, see you tomorrow.

The day started out overcast, but by the time I park it's only partly cloudy, sun and blue sky up there. I decide to leave my raincoat in the car, and make my way ALL the way around 'Randall's fucking Island' (Thank you, Mari) and inside the venue. This is the NYC Lollapalooza venue, and yes, it sucks. You're walking literally miles from parking no matter where you park. I run through security and ticket check and through the food and the T-shirts and into the venue, at the right side of the stage (house right). most people make the stupid, cattle-like mistake of walking into Downing Stadium and stopping right next to the stage, creating a huge bottleneck. I canvass the area next to the soundboard but I don't see anyone, and realize that my friends are smart enough NOT to be down in the mess.

Security must have learned some valuable lessons from Lollapalooza, because the stadium field (soccer-field size) is divided in many places, but most importantly, ALL THE WAY DOWN THE MIDDLE, and I know from Lolla that people are too dumb (or too lazy) to walk to the other side. Most people anyway. I walk around, handing out Five Horizons fliers and get to the very unpopulated area next to the soundboard. I'm looking for people and I don't even know what they look like. *sigh* I hate this.

All of a sudden, this guy next to me goes, 'Neil Young (pointing to my shirt). Soundgarden (pointing to my hat). Caryn Rose -- I'm Al, this is Eric." Wow, I'm impressed. I *finally* meet the infamous ecg and his friend Al, and we spend some quality time chatting. I decide to go looking for my other friends up in the stands, as impossible as that may seem, but promise to return later on. I find Art and Maggie from Detroit shortly before Ben Harper hits the stage. Some day, I promise myself, I will go see Ben Harper play. Some day he will play on a night when there isn't a conflicting show, or doesn't cost $25 to see. The last time I heard Ben Harper, it was from the first aid area at the 11/4/95 San Jose show, after getting pulled out of the pit, once again hours before Pearl Jam are even onstage. I find some weird irony in this.

Ben leaves the stage and I start to FEEL it. Ya know, that PJ anticipation. I think I was too burned out in Seattle by the Showbox experience to really be all that excited about it. It's Al's and Eric's first PJ show, and I feel pretty damn privileged to be at a first show with such huge fans. Cool... even if I won't be able to sing since Eric is a taper. This will be a new experience, I think. ;-)

We examine the 'show stats' (what songs have been played and what frequency so far) and start discussing what we'd like to hear. This tour, my choice is 'Wash' (along with my permanent request to PLAY ANY *&^% WHO SONG ALREADY, DAMMIT!). They're doing it; I know they're doing it and as we discuss, if there's any city in which it's appropriate to play that damn song it's New York City! ('This city... so filthy... like my mind'). Eric starts getting his taping equipment ready, relying on me for the word that they're going to walk onstage. I keep my eye on the stage crew, waiting for their huddle to give ecg the sign. The crew hugs, that drumming music starts, I motion to eric. Shortly afterwards the lights go down and there they are! Suddenly, no personal space exists, and the surge forward begins. We want to maintain our positions -- we have no desire to go forward, no matter how tempting it might be.

The lights go on and almost without stopping the band go right into 'Last Exit'. Whoa, where is THIS coming from? In any event, it's a good opener, and I love watching Stone play that song, even if he isn't being particularly Stone-like tonight. (I've developed the "Stone Barometer" for shows, I've noticed... more on this later.) Song two is -- you guessed it, "Hail, Hail" and I am just obsessed with this song, thanks to a friend of mine who came up for the Seattle show. After a night of much tequila, Nick voiced the theory that Eddie wants a baby, based on the lyrics to "Hail, Hail," and maintains that within two years we'll see progeny. In any event, imo it's a cynical, realistic love song and I love watching Eddie sing it, I love watching them play it, I love that jam at the end when they all walked up to the drum and huddle around jack until the song fades out. Nice, very nice. Didn't even matter that some light rain had begun falling. No big deal; with the crowd so thick, we almost don't feel it.

'Animal' is next, my favorite Vs. tune, the first song I ever saw PJ play, and every time without fail that I hear it live it still gives me goosebumps. Tonight is no exception, and they follow it up with the best punk tune they've ever written, "StBC." Eddie's in fine voice, love his voice on this song, love the guitars, it's clear that this show is going somewhere... despite the rain, which is still falling. "Hello New York... I missed you. *We* missed you," says Eddie. Almost two years already, since those Paramount shows that they didn't sell tickets for.

"Red Mosquito" up next, I didn't like this song the very first time I heard it in San Jose last year, I don't like it on the album, and the only thing that makes it bearable for me live is Mikey. McCready is not at all manic tonight, this is a surprise, and I can't tell what's up, whether he's tired, not into it or what. I'm used to seeing him throw himself around the stage, and that's not happening. Jeff, on the other hand, is running back and forth, wearing these cool striped shorts (shorts in NYC in september is unheard of) making up for the inactivity of the rest of the gang, with the exception of Jack, further reinforced when he kicks into the intro of the next song, my favorite live No Code track (okay, my favorite live AFTER "Mankind" ;-) ), "In My Tree." I just love that almost minimalist beginning, Eddie's baritone, and then they just slam into it. Yep, this is my band I'm seeing here. This is Pearl Jam, this is the stuff I love about 'em.

[It's still raining, by the way.]

"Lukin" follows, "Not For You" after that. It's raining a little bit harder, and after "NFY," Eddie addresses the crowd. "Does that rain feel good? You do know I have a direct line to God." *pause* "Most rock and roll musicians do." *pause* "Do you think 'Sweet Jane' was written by a human being?" WHAAAAA????? I think. Could they? Fuck, Pearl Jam doing "Sweet Jane" by the Velvets? Or "Rock and Roll," one of the best songs ever written about music and radio. Oh wow. Let's hope so.

"Better Man" is up next. The mirror ball descends for the first time to nice effect. Ed throws in a bit of "Save it for Later" by the English Beat at the end. I'm already trying to do the 'influences math', as I call it, in my head. where is this coming from? Why this song? Why now? (No, I haven't figured it out yet. Gimme a bit.)

"Corduroy" follows, PJ's big 'arena' song as some of my friends refer to it, including an excellent, tasteful jam from McCready, very Stones-ish, 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking?' style. Unfortunately, this is followed by the "Jeremy"/"Dissident" stretch, which continues to suck. I can see "Jeremy," ya know, I can, but I fail to see any need to continue to include "Dissident" in the shows. It's always just average. It's just an average song, it really couldn't be any more than average no matter how well the band played it. Oh well.

Eddie: "We just started doing this one again... it's called 'State of Love and Trust.'". Wow!! This IS a surprise! And the crowd here absolutely knows this one, as many many people are singing along in our area. It's one of my favorites, one of my favorites live, but unfortunately was ruined halfway through when some rocket scientists in our area (back near the sound board) decide to start crowd surfing and I'm dodging Doc Martens from Long Island instead of being able to concentrate on the song. This really sucks... the song finishes, and Stone starts noodling on the "Baba O'Riley" riff. I know by now that if they tease us with it, they will NOT play it, so I save my energy. It's not like I was close enough that they'd hear me anyway. This takes us into "Black," also just average, and we were treated to a male bonding festival when a group of large guys start forming a huddle and swaying. (To "Black?" Will someone explain this to me?)

"Habit" is next, as the rain continues to build in intensity, followed by "RVM," by which time it's fucking *pouring*. Oh well. Not much we can do about it now, except hope it'll stop at some point. I can barely keep a set list despite the fact that I now do them in permanent marker on index cards because the cards and my hands are so wet. "Alive" comes at the right time, and is excellent as always. I'm just continually amazed at Eddie's ability to put such real meaning and emotion behind the band's biggest hit. More power to him. It pays off.

This goes into "Blood," which as most of you know is always an intense experience... Chris wants to see them segue into "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by the Stooges some time, and he's right -- it fits. It's the same mood. And tonight they definitely took us into that zone... The rain is monsoon-like. The lights onstage are red. The strobes start to go off during the jam. Some macho types decide it's time to open up a fucking mosh pit in our vicinity. (I walked right in the middle of it. Fuck this shit. Why can two guys impose their will on a hundred people? Only because YOU LET THEM -- make THEM go to the back and knock the shit out of each other if they want to). Anyway, Mike and Stone are up there working it out BIG time -- as Al said earlier, "Stone's got the funk." Damn straight, and right now he was proving it. Jeff starts the bass line to "Dance to the Music" by Sly and the Family Stone and Eddie starts singing this song he sang both nights -- don't know what it is, chorus was 'as long as you will want me.' I know it; it sounds familiar, and I'll figure it out shortly. In any event, very awesome.

They walk off afterwards and we wait for the encore. Rain has died down, but don't worry, in case there was any part of our bodies that wasn't wet at that point, it'll start up again later. First encore song is "Who You Are" which I am so happy it works well live. I had my doubts. This is followed by an excellent "Even Flow," with a very very special surprise! Before the song Eddie makes a comment about how he thinks he recognizes one of the security guards and how they're going to invite him to play on the next song. This didn't make sense, until John Popper walks out and starts jamming with Mikey! Wow! Is this amazing or WHAT? The back-and-forth was just righteous to watch. Ed adds a bit of "I Believe in Miracles" by the Ramones towards the end.

Eddie makes a little speech giving props to the people down front, "You're taking a beating; this is for you. It's called 'Whipping.'" During the song he stops and points down front; he then says, "Oh, is THAT it?" and they slam back into it. I just don't get this song; it's lost its magic live for me. This is followed by "Leaving Here," and I throw caution to the wind and sing along, at least on the "oh yeahs." How could I not. ;-) Ed then follows this with a little speech talking about how it seems to him, from what he's heard and the people he's met, that lots of people are meeting each other through the band's music (Eric and I look at each other and smile), and that "I'm honored to be a part of it." Very cool. And probably more true than he knows...

"Indifference" is next, not as ethereal as it can be. The rain has stopped (go figure, of course it has). The lights come on. Eddie tells us to go home and get ready for tomorrow. Show ended at 9:30. I got home at 12:30, after listening to "Down on the Upside" three times in a row trying to get off of the Island... all in all, about a 6-7 rating on a scale of 10. Not bad, but they're capable of more. Let's see what tomorrow brings. I go home and throw my clothes in the dryer, post the set list to Jean and Chris, and go to sleep.

Sunday, 9/29

Today I'm smarter and leave the house at 2pm. I don't hit traffic until the Triborough and learning from yesterday, manage to beat a good portion of that traffic at the toll as well. I pull into Randalls Island at 3pm with the Ramones blaring out of my stereo, try to find the ideal parking spot (last night's location was wonderful, but is VIP parking today), and walk all the way around to the other side of the Island to wait at will call. It's 3:30 at this point, Eric and the gang will be meeting me here at 4ish. I sit and wait, pace back and forth. The guy working the guest list has an Iggy Pop baseball hat on, which I try to talk him out of. No dice.

I'm sitting next to some guy with long blonde hair and wristbands identical to the ones that Maggie had from previous shows; It's obvious he's following the tour so I try and eavesdrop on his convo to see if he's on the net and maybe I know him? After about 20 minutes, I get up and am looking at him and it dawns on me: "Josh???!" Josh who flew out for a few shows and ended up doing Augusta and the NYC shows because Maggie and Art dragged him with them, Josh who has developed this rapport with Eddie, after being down front repeatedly -- in Augusta, Eddie stopped in the middle of "State," pointed at him and said, "Hey, I remember you, you were at the DC show." Josh who painted a cow on the side of a plunger and threw it on stage, where it is now resident next to Stone's lava lamp. (If you don't get this one, you didn't read the "High Times" interview with Stone. Go read it and you'll understand.) Josh who last year answered my query on Oceans, the defunct PJ mailing list, for someone to go down front with me in San Francisco. I haven't seen him since San Jose last year; we chat until his friend gets his guest list tickets from the Fastbacks and they disappear. Maggie and Art show up too and disappear, and Eric & company show up shortly after that. We grab our tickets and book over to the entrance, where we have to wait for Mari and RJ. I take the opportunity to whip out our Five Horizons fliers and hand them out to the crowd.

We finally assemble our whole group and start going through security, trying to pick the best guards to go through that are less likely to try to bust our tapers. We get searched once, they are taking bottles of water and blankets (go figure). We get searched AGAIN (it's not like i'm carrying anything except a small fanny pack) and after they scan our tickets, we get searched yet AGAIN by another security company. It was sucking badly, and we were complaining. What we didn't know, but found out later, was that one of the security guards down front got shot in the forehead the night before with a bb gun. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have said a word. I'm surprised they didn't put up fucking metal detectors.

We were anxious to claim our space for tonight -- same side, further back, on the soundboard enclosure barrier -- but we needn't have worried. We got there just as the Fastbacks took the stage and the crowd was so light that I was able to go right down to the front barrier in front of where Kurt was standing. And then it started... you know... the enticement of the front. 'Wow, I'm so close. I can see everything... I could see Mike and Jeff from here so well.... Wow, what a great view. Look, the crowd is so calm and loose. It wouldn't be hard to stay up here at all...' I stay down front for most of the set to give the Fastbacks some hometown support and then go find Art and Maggie, mostly to get myself AWAY from the mirage of the pit. We chat until Ben Harper starts, discuss Bridge School and the spring tour, and then say goodbye. I go off in search of food and then back to the soundboard posse.

It's a beautiful clear night; a little cool, but after last night we're just grateful for no rain. We've got a valuable chunk of real estate; we can see the stage great. Even have a cool security guard, who generously gives us water out of his bottles. We watch the hordes stream out of the pit; at the beginning, they were just sending them out the side down front, and of course the idiots were back there in three seconds. When things started getting bad, they started sending them out down the center, which meant that crowdsurfers and people who genuinely wanted out had to walk the entire length of the field to get out of the pit. It didn't stop the real assholes, as we counted more than one repeat offender. I don't get it. We also saw people who were hurt, really hurt, shaken up, dehydrated. The show hadn't even STARTED yet... what is this???

7:30, candles lit, drums playing, here they come, we're betting on 'Sometimes' and they do not fail us. After the song, Eddie tells us (I think in an attempt to calm down the crowd), "I anticipate that the songs tonight will be played better than they ever have been played, and that we'll play longer than we have ever played tonight." He also commented on the traffic from the night before, by saying, "Still here from last night, huh? It was a bitch getting out of here last night... We're going to take it easy for a bit."

"Go" is next, and Eric is already tapping me on the shoulder, giving a thumbs-up to McCready. Any doubts about this show I may have had are disappearing rapidly. They are ON tonight, flowing like quicksilver. "StBC" follows, despite Ed's promise to take it easy. The Stone Barometer does not fail me, he is in classic form tonight, doing mini-windmills at the end of the song. 'Hail, Hail" comes up fourth tonight, even better than last night, Eddie's more into it tonight, I am just holding my breath wondering where they are going to take us this evening. "Animal" next... which gets stopped in the middle. Really stopped. Eddie looks worried. "We need to take care of this situation down front. Everyone, please move away from this area down here. Can everyone please take some steps back. " He's clearly getting frustrated; he's clearly being ignored. I can feel the urgency and the anger and the exasperation in his voice. "Put the house lights on; we're not going anywhere until this is taken care of. You at the back and at the sides, smile, say 'hi' and how glad you are that you're back there and not up here."

Now, this is surprising. This is the first time I have heard Eddie refer to the pit in anything but glowing, heroic terms. Hmmm. It's also frightening, because if it's THAT bad that Eddie's noticing, someone is going to get really hurt. I thank my stars I did not try and stay down front. I KNEW this would happen... "This is New York -- you're used to trouble, right?" Yep Eddie, we are, but this is ridiculous. I saw a guy get carried out on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on. People continue to stream out of the front.

They pick up right where they left off, not losing much intensity. "Tremor Christ" comes next, good choice to calm things down, but it doesn't matter. Eddie addresses the crowd again after the song, saying, "I just want to address y'all again -- you know, if someone got hurt until the point that they weren't living any more, I don't think I could ever play again. Some bands go on -- we couldn't. Music is not that important." He was clearly getting pissed at the inability of the crowd to stop and police themselves. Maybe, just maybe, I think, they're beginning to get it.

"Who You Are" comes next. Really, this should have calmed things down. Apparently not. Eddie is REALLY pissed now: "There's a fuckin' mental hospital up the street -- is that where you came from? It's a little too fuckin' CROWDED to be having a fuckin' MOSHPIT -- with all due respect. Just calm down!" The band goes into "Corduroy" and ya know, despite the pauses and Eddie's impatience, it's still great... they're still cooking. Unfortunately, all of Eddie's crowd management skills went out the window with the next song, you guessed it, "Lukin."

Eddie stops again and points at a girl in the crowd (the second one he spoke to): "Sweetheart, you're not gonna make it -- just come out. Just come out. We'll find a place for you on the side of the stage. The rest of you, every second of dead time we'll make up, don't worry. Oh, now we've got a fight. What, is there a Republican in the audience?"

This seemed to calm things down, because there wasn't any need to address the crowd on this topic further, and we go into "Better Man." "NFY" follows... McCready is ruling big time tonight. The four of them were again huddled around Jack during the jam, really getting it together, totally beautiful moment.

Just when I'm wondering what's next, I hear the chords... I know what it is! I turn around and mouth "NEW JEREMY!!!" at Eric, put my mouth up to Mari's ear and scream, 'New Jeremy!!!' and generally lose it big time. I've heard it on tape.... but never got to hear it live. Oh wow. I love this version, I wish they would do only this version. To me this is the version of "Jeremy" Eddie would write now if he could. It could even fit on No Code in this format. I'm just digging the groove, checking out the stars. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, like getting hit by a mack truck come the opening chords to "Once!" I am jumping up and down so hard that I almost lose my balance... Eric is trying to calm me down, there is no stopping me at this point, and once we get to Mike's solo we're all losing it. Jack is playing great. They are all playing great. Song ends, I hear the 'thunk-thunk' of a bass line and i'm writing down "RATS!!!" (As Chris would say later when I phoned in the set list, "Damn!!").

"Last Exit" comes next and tonight I get to see the Stone Gossard I love to see live. He's in full Stone marching mode. Followed by "Habit." Still don't like the damn song, but the jam at the end was wonderful. This segues into "RVM." The mirror ball comes down. I'm getting hypnotized by the lights running around the stage. The jam starts, totally reminding me yet again of the synth bridge during the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." The light is purple. The mirror ball is spinning. The guys all together in the center of the stage. absolutely ethereal moment.

"Immortality" is ruled by one Mr. Jack Irons. "Whipping" is redeemed by Eddie doing Townshend windmills. They then switch gears with "I Got Shit (Id)" which I haven't heard in so long and still love. This is (unfortunately) followed by a fairly decent version of "Black," a rousing "Alive," and then Eddie goes, "I've just got one thing to say... Just one thing to say...", Eric leans up and with his hand counts down '1-2-3-4' just as Eddie goes '1-2-3-4/what the fuck is this world/running to...' and I look at ecg incredulously and back at the stage and all five of us lose it collectively as they explode into the most emotionally intense version of "Porch" I have ever personally witnessed live. I'm wondering if Eddie's going to climb. I hope he doesn't. I want him to be able to take us somewhere without having to resort to that. I know he can do it. I have total faith in him.

During the bridge Eddie is doing something... can't quite tell what.... and then i realize that he's wrapping duct tape around himself, black duct tape, diagonally around his legs, then around his shirt like suspenders.... I turn to Eric and mouth, 'Oh my GOD, he's going IN', wondering what the hell he thinks he is doing! And then he addresses the crowd... He puts duct tape on his mouth and rips it off, asks us if we trust him... "You don't have to trust me"... Talks about feeling like you have duct tape over your mouth, and that if you've got something to say, you should just say it... and that "only you know who you are. No one can tell you who you are. No one can tell me who I am. I can't tell you who I am... Rolling Stone can't tell you who I am." Really profound. At the end, yes, he goes in, or at least as far as the first row of the pit, gets back on stage and goes into the last verse, and by the time it is over I am crying. I don't know why; it almost has nothing to do with the context of the song. Maybe it was more relief that I hadn't lost my love for this band, or that they hadn't lost what I loved so much about them, that intangible element that makes them ring true in my heart.

They walk off for the encore and we all catch our breath (or try to), and then the band walks back out and that lovely, intricate drumming intro for "In My Tree" starts. I love this song on album but it is far stronger live in my opinion, just the way they've deconstructed the intro, focusing it on Eddie's voice and Jack's drumming at first, then bringing the other elements in. Tonight was the best version yet. At the end, someone throws up a "Vedder For President" shirt... Eddie laughs embarrassedly but good-naturedly... "Vedder For President. Well, I must admit -- I smoke pot." *pause* "But I didn't exhale." The crowd roars in approval, and the band starts "Even Flow," the song I could hear a million times and never get tired of. Jeff is jumping, and do I even have to tell you how well Mikey played. No, I don't think so.

Jeff sits down and we go into "Daughter." We get to the bridge and Eddie tries a couple of different things. He first starts singing "day-o," which no one picks up on. Then he sings the song he sang the night before, with the "as long as you will want to" chorus. Next, he asks us if we feel like singing... "Hmmm... what will you know..." and then starts singing "The Real Me" from Quadrophenia, at which point I lose all sanity, screaming along with him. Someday I really want to hear them all play this, one of the best bass lines in the history of rock and roll. I want to hear Jeff playing this! But just hearing Eddie tear into one line was enough for now. "Another Brick In The Wall" follows, and then a little "WMA" at the end brings us home.

Stone steps up to the mic, Eric pounds me on the shoulder as Stoney asks us, "Before I sing this next song, can I get a chant of 'Stone... Stone'?" We gladly obliged, as we got one of the best moments of the evening in "Mankind." Eddie puts the guitar on and I'm guessing "Long Road"... and I'm right. During the song, Eddie keeps pointing out in the crowd... I finally get a clue, turn around and realize he's gesturing at the moon. Only other person I know that's ever pointed out the moon during a concert is Michael Stipe. They close the first encore with "Leaving Here" and Eddie doing at least one Townshend jump. Wow. What could be next??? Any thoughts I had of leaving before the encore ended were long gone...

They walk back out, and before we know it Mikey starts the "Ledbetter" intro. I sigh, but then Eric taps me on the shoulder -- Eddie's stopped him, and there's a big pow-wow going on up on stage. GOOD! C'mon guys, give us an interesting cover or something! Eddie tells us, "We're going to play some stuff we've never played before" and they kick into "Off He Goes." Truly wonderful, but nothing like what we're in for next.


Ed: "Mike and I are gonna play one for ya" and it's -- "Present Tense." Oh my god, this is just beyond unbelievable. This is my favorite song on the album, it's their mid-era Townshend piece, this song wouldn't be out of place on "Who Came First." it's very "Naked Eye" like (and that says A LOT). I can't even begin to describe what this was like, just Eddie and Mike up there, and then when the rest of them kick in, the most Who-like bass line PJ have done to date. The guitar interplay, the subtle complexity of that song is killing us. Why the hell they haven't done it (except at the Showbox, which in my opinion DOES NOT COUNT) yet on this tour is beyond me. It's clearly their best work on the album, if not one of their outstanding pieces of work ever.

After this Eddie tells us that he had this really vivid dream the night before, which he shared with the rest of the band, that tonight they would just keep playing until we got bored, that people would leave little by little, the traffic wouldn't be bad then, and at the end there'd be only about 6 people at the front of the stage... yeah right. "Ledbetter" starts, I hug everyone good bye and decide to use this song to make my way to at least the stadium exit I wanted to leave via. It was going to take me the whole damn song to get there, and if they kept going, I'd still be able to see and hear well enough on the other side. Now, you have to understand that it's one of my least favorite PJ songs, probably due to overexposure, but never mind. I could live without hearing it ever again quite well... but for some reason, I walked away and started singing along. And I mean *singing*, at the top of my lungs, from the diaphragm, exuberantly hitting notes I have never hit before. The people I passed either gave me very weird looks or total thumbs-ups. And as I anticipated, I hit the exit at the very last note.

Walking back to the car, I was totally in a PJ zone. I didn't want to hear anybody talking; I didn't want to talk to anyone. I wanted just to keep this show playing in my head long enough that I would never, ever forget it. I was still sitting in traffic when Eric and Mari and the gang found me sitting on line next to their car, waiting to get out. Even the hour to get out and having to drive home via Queens didn't change anything... This was PJ. They played for us. They challenged us. They challenged themselves, and it *worked*. I got about 2 hours of sleep that night I was so wound up from the show, and the fact that I had to get up at 5:30am the next day and fly to Boston didn't matter. I still had the memory of the show in my head and in my heart.

Now, if I only could 've stayed out an extra day and hit the Hartford show... oh well. See you in the spring, guys!

Some notes:

Mosh pits are STUPID and should be stopped.

From our vantage point on Sunday, we could see the frightened, hurt people streaming out of the pit. We could also see the repeat offenders, including one gentleman we referred to as "fido" for various reasons. Many reports I have read about Sunday tell of the horrendous, frightening situation down front. I am almost ashamed to have written such a glowing review of the show when my fellow PJ fans were getting hurt badly in the pit.

I just don't get it. When the pit started in Seattle and we had to bail when it was clear it was an untenable situation, I started having flashbacks to pits I have been in. I have spent my life sleeping out overnight to be down front at concerts... I have been in some tight situations. I have been in crowded situations. I have been in real mosh pits for real punk bands. And I remembered the scariest pit I was in, for The Clash in 1979. I flashed back to that show, and I remember losing my balance during the dancing (It was dancing, real moshing, not just assholes running around and bashing into people just because they can) ... I remember going down and being scared but my overwhelming memory is of the second I went down, ALL the hands of people grabbing me and bringing me back up. The pit stopped until i was on my feet again AND the people in my vicinity had assured themselves I was okay.

And this is why Eddie keeps up this mosh pit talk. That's what he remembers, too. What he doesn't know, what the rest of the band obviously (I hope) don't know is that it IT NOT LIKE THAT ANY MORE. Pits have NOTHING to do with the music; they're an excuse for large white men to go down front and participate in mindless violence. That's all I have to say on the subject -- for now.

How I got tickets

Maggie and I were chatting about the ticketing situation this tour and how completely easy it was to get tickets -- if you wanted them badly enough! Personally, my NYC tickets fell in my lap at the last second. One post to a PJ mailing list turned up someone who gladly sold me one of his brother's tickets for face value -- I sent him a money order federal express, with a return airbill to my parents' house in Connecticut, where I was staying. The other ticket came from Eric, who also ended up with friends not going. I waited for Eric at will call on Sunday and there were 1) plenty of people with that one spare ticket, willing to sell it for face (for the most part), and 2) THE BOX OFFICE STILL HAD TICKETS. It is amazing to me the people who don't even think to walk to the box office and ask. They released approximately 300 tickets for the Seattle show; the fan club tickets for every show (except Toledo) were *undersold*, and even in Toledo there were tickets available at the box office the day of the show!

There is no reason on this planet to ever pay a scalper or more than face value for Pearl Jam tickets. If we all stopped panicking and just got our shit together the scalpers wouldn't even bother to buy tickets because they wouldn't be able to sell them. As it was, all the scalpers I saw were on the roadway on the way to the venue, and they were mostly *buying* tickets, which I hope they got stuck with.

Copyright © 1996 Caryn Rose
Photos by Chris Hendershot & Quayle Hadok