Sunday, September 27, 2009

Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies

Wow. No mosh pit this time. No Doc Martens. No flannel. Oh, wait, there's a guy wearing some. No long hair flying around in unison to a deafening drum/guitar/bass cacophony.
On Saturday night, I saw Pearl Jam...again.
I'm not a huge fan anymore, in fact, I haven't been for at least ten years, but an opportunity presented itself when my brother asked Terri and me to join his wife and him for a show at the Clark County Amphitheatre, just outside Vancouver, Washington.
And once again, the past collided head-on with the present. The first time we saw the band was in 1992, at a free concert in Seattle's Magnuson Park. Pearl Jam's debut album had just broken, and we found ourselves entrenched in the epicenter of the grunge hurricane. I had turned thirty a couple of weeks previous, and I can remember how old I felt among the throngs of twenty-somethings flocking to the venue. We didn't realize that approximately 30,000 of them would methodically shove us forward into the notorious "mosh pit." Before we knew it, bodies were surfing above us, occasionally introducing the business end of a worn boot to one of our temples. Every so often, a pale, sweaty, bloody reveler would squeeze out around us and collapse onto the first open ground available.
By the time the show was over, we'd been knocked to the ground, elbowed and shouldered numerous times, I'd lost my ponytail band, and my calfs burned from standing on my toes for four hours. I was elated.
Fast forward seventeen years. Rather than arrive at the show via Metro bus and walking another half mile, we drove into the "Premier Parking" area, a three minute walk from the theatre. Rather than hike in with a backpack full of provisions, we stopped at a concession area a few feet from our seats for a couple of pre-show beverages. And portable toilets? Forget about it. These had actual plumbing and there were more than five of them.
The show was fantastic, especially since the band possesses a huge body of work now, rather than one blockbuster album from which to sample. Eddie Vedder still sings like a madman; his voice goes from dulcet baritone to shrill scream in milliseconds. Even though we purchased seats, the crowd stood the entire time, and judging by the average attendee's age, I'm sure it felt good to finally sit-down for the ride home in the SUV.
And if I see these guys again seventeen years from now, it'll probably be because the missus and I are preferred players at the Emerald Queen.

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