"you guys pissed me off before..."
Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA
Jesus, but was it HOT in Sacto. Unbearably hot. We made our way inside the venue as quickly as possible, and commandeered seats on the side of the stage, Mike's side (since it was EMPTY). The view was very similar to what I had in Las Vegas, only more side-stage due to the configuration of the arena (not so long, and very wide), and much closer and lower down. (Thanks to teresa's practiced eye; she chose these!) When we sat down, DJ Bonebrake's (the X drummer) kit was level with our seats, and i thought, well, if Matt's kit is there too, it'll solve the Cameron Viewing Trajectory problem. I briefly considered standing at the back in front of the soundboard, but luckily teresa was rather insistent about this location. =)
After receiving tons of flame mail for my Las Vegas review, I'd resolved not to write a review of Sacto "even if Dennis Rodman, Chris Cornell AND Pete Townshend show up and sing a barbershop quartet with Eddie," as I told Jean (her response: "Well, be sure to take lots of pictures of that"), but despite myself I found myself taking notes, to share with friends who couldn't be there if nothing else.
So I went into the show with a different, more relaxed mindset, and used my 6th show this tour, and this unusual viewpoint of the stage, to focus on particular things instead of worrying about not missing any moment...
X: Around 7:15, we saw Billy Zoom walk out. A few minutes later, I saw Exene's fire-red hair on the side of the stage, and figured they were coming out, so I stood up to applaud them. What do I notice then but a leather-jacket-clad Mr. Vedder standing there chatting with Exene and John Doe. I pointed him out to my companion, noted that I bet that he'd come out and introduce them so they didn't get the finger from the audience throughout their set, we sit down. 15 minutes later, the people around me see Eddie standing there, and start shrieking "EDDIE! EDDIE!!! OVER HERE!!! EDDIE!! WHY DON"T YOU WRITE A SONG ABOUT ME?!" *sigh* Sure enough, he introduces them as "one of the greatest bands to ever write, sing and play loud" and notes that the last few shows where X has opened has been one of the greatest things to ever happen to Pearl Jam. (Some guy behind me: "Bullshit!") His introduction helped a little, but not much. People were still screaming at Eddie, who sat at the side of the stage to watch the set, but totally ignored the fact that Mike, Stone AND Matt were also sitting there, rocking out (and Jeff came out later).
John Doe is still one of the sexiest guys in rock and roll: Somewhere in this mess of an apartment I have a pick he pressed into my hand when he left the stage at an X show at the Palladium in NYC in 1982. I took it to an in-store the next day and got him to sign it and just about fell over when he recognized me. I wore it on a chain around my neck for MONTHS.
Juvenile infatuations aside, it was awesome to see these guys opening for PJ; we noticed Exene at the side of the stage for a good part of PJ's set, bopping away. And I am going to get myself to a show where Iggy opens, by hook or by crook. (Hey, anyone got any extra Deer Creek pavilion tickets...? =))
spin the black circle: they did not play 'the color red' before walking onstage tonight, which sucked because i was SO not ready for them. the lights just cut out and they walked right onstage.
the first six songs were tremendous; you don't come out and open with STBC unless you are prepared to move onwards and upwards from that, and they did. i spent those first six songs thinking, man, this could be better than san diego, god, they are just on fire. "Given To Fly" was nothing short of truly anthemic; I got goosebumps. But after "Corduroy," something went amiss, something I couldn't quite put my finger on, something that almost concerned us by the end of the show.
but moments, this show was certainly full of moments.
corduroy: i thought i'd heard a slightly new beginning to this song last weekend, and tonight confirmed it. eddie plays the opening riff twice, then there's a cymbal crash, then the bass and other guitars kick in, and then that drum roll cascading up. (Okay, it's hard to explain. Here's what my raw notes say:guitar x 2is that any better??!)
rvm: so i'm watching ed strum during the RVM guitar break, he's standing sideways so i can just focus on his hands on the guitar, his head down, totally focused, like he'd forgotten about the crowd for a minute, just lost in the music. and then the final instrumental bit at the end, the strobes flashing, and mike is just running around in small circles on his side of the stage. it was truly memorable.
(see what i mean about it being a show full of moments?)
betterman: so the song starts with just Ed, right? and i'd started noticing what the rest of the guys are doing while he's singing; tonight, Stone was sitting on his amp, legs crossed, arms folded over his guitar, kind of hugging it to his body, watching Eddie intently.
in my tree: i heard this soundchecked in st. louis, and my joy knew no bounds. tonight, i don't know HOW i knew it was going to be "in my tree," but when eddie said, "this goes out to jack, he's the drummer that couldn't be here" i turned to teresa and nearly screamed, "in my tree! in my tree! they haven't played this yet!" and once again my joy knew no bounds.
black: another song i've made my peace with (now that it isn't in EVERY SINGLE SHOW). eddie sang the "surrounded by" line to the back of the stage, to the fans up in the rafters, and got one of the few genuine smiles i saw on his face the whole night from the reaction of the fans up there. (people: GET THERE EARLY. don't show up at 8:55 and then bitch that there are no seats next to the stage.)
nothingman: ah, bliss. this song, i noted the precision with which stone plays the riffs during the "into the sun..." lines (my favorite part of the song, too). and it still makes me cry, makes me cry when nothing much else can these days.
alive: this song never gets tired to me, i don't know why, i've just never seen them do a bad version. eddie sang this song turning 360 degrees slowly, singing different parts to different sections of the arena, checking us out, nodding, smiling.
go: Eddie falling backward, gesturing at the audience to give it up for Mikey (while not wanting to get too close to the edge to incite them too much more, it seemed). baptizing the crowd down front with his wine bottle, red notebook in hand, at the end.
1,2,3,4...: someone on the message board posted a really funny message about how they thought we'd get porch in sacto, so i guess it was kinda foremost in my mind; i hadn't seen it yet this tour. and so when eddie counted down i just jumped up and down and totally threw myself into it, i'd used up the last few photos at that point so i had no camera, didn't need many notes for this. mike used a lot of echo and distortion last night, kept bending down over his effects rack a lot, and porch was one of the songs where this was most notable. it was your garden-variety "porch," though, nothing new or different about it, but it was damn good to hear. the jam was different, though, it was sparse and short, minimalist; and it was here that eddie said, "you guys pissed me off before".
acronyms-r-us: someone in the crowd had a "sign" (it was a tshirt held sideways) that said "RITFW". I laughed hard; we tend to forget that we're the ones who come up with these abbrieviations, NOT the band. I wonder if they would even know what we were talking about. =)
wave your arms in the air: stone was doing a lot of this sticking his arm up in the air to punctuate certain songs - "corduroy" is a good example. he wasn't front stage as much as san diego or las vegas, though; i think they were worried about making the crush at the front worse than it already was.
get a teleprompter, eddie: seriously, i'm not trying to say that the show was off because eddie flubbed some lyrics; the reason that eddie flubbed some lyrics was the reason the show was off. (does that make sense?) it got so bad at the end - "wishlist" comes to mind - that i started to get kinda worried about him. (and no, he was NOT drunk, either.)
shoes for my friends: i can't remember the last time i saw so much crap thrown onstage at a pj show, it was like watching the indio vid, only worse, because i was there. from our viewpoint, we could see the growing stockpile of shoes near the drum riser, and watched the roadies scurry out after every song to clear 'em up. it got so bad that during "wishlist," i mean, it wasn't bad enough that poor ed forgot the first verse more or less, but some dickhead winged their shirt onstage; it hit eddie's mic stand and knocked it over while he was back playing to matt, and stone and jeff rushed over and jeff picked the mic up so ed could finish singing the song.
(and don't give me this crap that "stuff always gets thrown onstage during pj shows". do you know what you missed because you were throwing crap? BABA O'RILEY. it was on the setlist, and it got pulled because eddie was pissed; one of the shoes hit jeff's stand-up bass during "daughter", which is what did it. thank the goddess there are only three more GA shows left at this point, only one on the east leg of the tour. maybe next time PJ will finally get it that their audience cannot handle the responsibility of a general admission show. sorry, guys.)
more wishlist: so i only learned a few shows ago that what eddie uses at the end of the song is an ebow; that's what he clips to his mic stand when the song starts. last night i had the presence of mind to watch him use it at the end, something i had missed until now. maybe it sounds small or inconsequential, but haven't you wondered what that effect was on the guitar, and wouldn't you like to watch it happen too?
lights, camera, action: lots of little lighting touches that were new since last weekend: loved the red, white and blue lighting on the backdrop during "brain of j", the strobes during "alive" (instead of just blanket houselights on the crowd) were a great touch. props to keith, and props to smitty for braving the security area along the pit with the smittycam.
go mikey: as i said to teresa when we claimed our seats, we were in mc cready nirvana. much closer and lower down than my vegas viewpoint, i could really watch the man's fingers on the fretboard this time. during "corduroy," i'm standing there thinking, "wow, this is really good, and really different. not that i know what the fuck i'm talking about, but it sounds like he's using a slide" and sure enough i look over and i'm so close and at such an angle that i can see him drop the bottleneck to the floor. that was pretty cool. he also seemed to be using a different guitar on RVM than usual; a blonde gibson hollowbody maybe? (any guitar players at the show, corrections are welcomed)
going through my notes, i see that for almost every solo i've scrawled "v. diff solo". and they were, they really were. mike's solos were darker tonight, if that makes any sense. i'm sure there's a musical term for what he was doing, but to me music is about feeling, and that's the feeling i got from it. and the behind-the-head hendrix action during "alive" - never thought i'd get to see that! i'd put the camera down at that point to enjoy the solo, and then i was like - 'fuck! behind the head!' and pulled it back out. but it was hard, it was so hard, i wanted to capture the moment so i'd always have it, but i just wanted to BE in that moment and have the pictures in my brain, too. i think i managed to do both.
and finally, personal to jeff ament: nice shorts! t. and i thought they did, erm, a LOT for you. =)
Copyright © 1998 Caryn Rose