I have been a Pearl Jam fan for a long time. In fact, the very first time I heard them, I fell in love and became a diehard fan immediately. My passion for the band has never faded.
The first time I saw them live was in the summer of 1992 at Lollapalooza. I was a punky kid who had never really been to a punk show. I was sort of nervous to go to a show like Lollapalooza, which at that time was really alternative and really strange and really intimidating. In fact, one of my regrets in life is not going to Lollapalooza in 1991 when Nirvana was there. Kurt died before I ever got to see them, so my fear of the freaks at Lolla (before I realized I *was* one of the freaks) held me back and fills me with regret to this day. But I digress...
I went to Lolla '92 with my boyfriend at the time, my best friend, and her boyfriend. My one and only goal was to get close to the stage for Pearl Jam, and I had no idea what that meant in reality. I just knew I was getting close to Eddie Vedder. I remember that they were second on the bill (after Lush) so they came on at maybe 2 in the afternoon. As soon as Lush finished, we ran up to stake out our spots...as did every other kid in the place. I felt ok about the spot we landed - not as close as I had hoped, but I was used to seeing hair metal bands from the nosebleed seats in arenas so just being in the vicinity of the stage was good enough for me.
As we stood and waited for the band, I realized I felt at home with all of these weirdo alternative kids with their piercings and tattoos and crazy hair and makeup. I wasn't sure what had made me so nervous, and I suddenly got very comfortable. I was with my people. And then Pearl Jam came out.
They opened with Even Flow and with the very first note, the pit went crazy. Everyone rushed the stage and we ended up way closer than we started thanks to the surge of sweaty bodies plowing towards us. I swear, I felt like the moment just overtook me. I stopped caring about how I looked or if my friends were still near me; I just became part of the experience. Everyone in the pit jumped and danced and moshed and screamed as one.
I loved it. I loved the energy and the passion. I looked around for my boyfriend after a minute or so and caught his eye. He was wide-eyed and panicked. In a terrified voice, he yelled, "I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!" and expected me to go with him. I didn't. I acknowledged him and then turned back to the band. My best friend left too, but her boyfriend and I stayed and were experiencing this awesomeness at the same time. We locked eyes and gave each other a mental high five. He was feeling the same thing I was. It was just an otherworldly feeling, one that I try to describe to my daughter but I just can't find the right words.
This moment in time changed my life. As I moshed and jumped and danced and got kicked in the head by crowdsurfers, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be, And I looked at who was not there with me - my boyfriend of 5 years. He was suddenly a world away from me. Now that I knew this feeling existed, I knew I couldn't go back to Saturday nights watching television at his house or going to dinner and a movie. I wanted to see every show for every band as often as possible. And I knew this was not a life he would want to lead. Suddenly, just from that one Pearl Jam show, I knew I would be breaking up with him and going it alone for a while.
I felt free.
And now, today, I am trying to get Pearl Jam tickets so I can take my daughter to see them and they sold out in like 1 minute. I did not get fan club tickets either. So now I'm going to have to overpay some dick at Stubhub who doesn't even like the band but just wants to make some money so I can see the band I have loved for nearly 25 years.
I miss the days when I'd go to the local record store on a Thursday night, stand on line to get a wristband, and come back on Saturday morning when tickets went on sale. I'd already have a place in line (the wristband gave you a number that was your place) and get to hang out with other crazy people who loved the band as much as I did (and I did this for so many bands, not just Pearl Jam). Now it's all scalpers just out to make money and true fans don't get to see the band.
Get off my lawn.