Nobody Gives a Damn About Sonic Youth
I thought I might give a damn, and their first song, "Incinerate", was pretty good. But then Kim Gordon sang. She is a bad, bad singer. Kim introduced another song by saying, "This song was inspired by reality TV shows. It's called, 'What a Waste'." Their willingness to take a stand against reality television convinced me that Sonic Youth was still relevant.
I didn't hate Sonic Youth, except when Kim was singing, but I simply didn't care. I like some of their older material, but the band was doing songs from a brand-new CD. I was temporarily interested in the child taking pictures from the wings of the stage (Thurston and Kim's kid? A hipster child with a terminal disease who got hooked up by Make-a-Wish?), but then that bored me, too. They got their biggest ovation when frontman Thurston Moore threw up a peace sign on his way off stage.
I also didn't give a damn about the peace sign.
Do I always hate certain crowd members at rock shows, or am I just a misanthrope? A little of both, I believe. There were two fans who stood out at this show. The first one was a heavyset balding fellow who stood in front of me. I think he was trying to save a place for friends arriving later, but the effect of his efforts was to place him uncomfortably close. And when he began dancing to Sonic Youth, there was far too much ass-to-crotch contact happening. He might have been unaware; he might have been a passive-aggressive sex offender. After holding him off with a forearm to the back through Sonic Youth's entire set, I eventually managed to move away.
Moving away brought me into the path of notable fan #2, a slimmer balding man. This guy was really happy to be there. I know this because he announced it to the crowd every five minutes. Slim Baldy appeared to have come alone, so he tried to make conversation with everyone around him. Everyone was avoiding eye contact well before Pearl Jam took the stage. Here are some things Slim Baldy did during the show:
2. Begged a nearby behemoth for a hit off his joint, repeating, "I'll pay you. I need this." Later, he leaned over to awkwardly thank the behemoth. All I could make out of their one-sided conversation was Slim Baldy saying, "I don't want to be that asshole, you know?"
3. Was that asshole. You know?
4. Tried to lead the crowd in clapping during every other song. Sometimes, he was the only person in the arena clapping. It wasn't enough to simply clap and hope that everyone followed his lead. He had to campaign for the clap, sometimes on a personal basis. It was the rock concert equivalent of door-to-door fighting. His refrain was, "Let's get the clap going! Come on! Get the clap going!" I hope he gets the clap.
5. Dropped a lit cigarette on his own foot.
6. Shouted the lyrics to "Better Man", one second ahead of the crowd and Eddie Vedder.
7. Requested "Rats".
8. Told us it was the best night of his entire life.
9. Took four cell phone calls.
10. Elbowed a teenage girl in the back of the head.
Pearl Jam covered Neil Young's "Fuckin' Up" in their second encore, and dedicated it to George W. Bush and his cabinet. Eddie Vedder also fucked up "Sometimes", the very first song of the night, so badly that they stopped after one verse and moved on to the next song. Since it was the first song, he couldn't even use the two bottles of wine he chugged during the show as an excuse. He also fucked up "Rearview Mirror" and "Whipping", but no one seemed to mind.
Mike McCready Is A Swell Guy
I was in front of Mike McCready for the show, which was a real treat. He raced around, made faces, talked to fans, pointed at other fans, and threw approximately two hundred guitar picks into the crowd. If you made eye contact with McCready, he tossed you a pick. If you missed the pick, he threw you another one. Twice, he tossed heaping handfuls of guitar picks into the crowd, willy-nilly. His haircut and glasses were equal parts ridiculous and magnificent.
McCready played many killer solos, some on songs that usually don't even have solos. "Even Flow" and "Corduroy" stood out for me, but he was on fire the whole night. There were a few occasions where McCready called bassist Jeff Ament over to his side of the stage, but not for any musical reasons - he just thought of something funny, and wanted to tell Ament, even if they were in the middle of a song. The last time that happened, Ament was laughing so hard that he careened into an amplifier.
Jeff Ament's Unorthodox Mic Stand
Jeff Ament provides backing vocals on many songs. His microphone is set up about six feet off the ground, and points straight down, meaning that Ament stands under the microphone and throws his head way back when he has to sing. When Eddie Vedder had to use that microphone later in the show, he made a "What the fuck?" face. Because that is indeed a freakish arrangement. And because Eddie Vedder is at least six inches shorter than Jeff Ament, and thus could not reach the microphone.
Song Distribution By Album
|B-Sides and EPs||2|
Is Eddie Drunk?
During the extended middle section of "Rearviewmirror", Eddie stood with the guitar over the back of his head, staggering slightly. "Man is he drunk," I thought. But then they put a spotlight on Eddie, and he used the guitar to angle the light back into the crowd, moving it along the balcony and into the general admission crowd on the floor. It was a cool effect, and I felt bad for doubting Eddie's sobriety. Slim Baldy informed us that Eddie was "doing The Wave", because Slim Baldy doesn't know what The Wave is.
Eddie sang "Last Kiss" from amidst the crowd, thanks to a V-shaped wedge in the middle of the crowd. He might have had some security guys with him as well; I was only tall enough to see the top of his head as he sang.
1. We were a great crowd.
2. San Francisco has been very kind to Pearl Jam
3. The band regrets how much energy their tour uses, and how much carbon it produces. They are making unspecified environmental efforts in an attempt to counter the damage done, including an interview that pre-empted sound check, and may have led to the "Sometimes" fuck-up.
4. Eddie was drinking only Northern California wine, "as you do".
5. Jeff Ament listened to a lot of punk rock growing up, and is the reason the band brought out The Avengers to do a song.
6. Seriously, the crowd was great.
A punk rock duo called The Avengers came out to sing "American In Me" with the band. Sample lyric: " It's the American in me that makes me watch the blood running out of the bullethole in his head." If they were the real Avengers, the Comics Code would have prevented the depiction of a bloody bullethole, the guitarist would have wielded the hammer Mjolnir, and the woman singing would have been able to grow or shrink in size using Pym particles.
The set list is after the jump.
1. Sometimes (aborted after one verse)
2. Severed Hand
5. World Wide Suicide
7. Marker in the Sand
9. Even Flow
10. Army Reserve
12. In My Tree
15. I Got Id
16. Inside Job
18. Wasted Reprise
19. Better Man
20. Life Wasted
21. American In Me (with The Avengers)
23. Last Kiss
24. Big Wave
27. Fuckin' Up (Neil Young)
28. Yellow Ledbetter
29. The Star-Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key)