Pearl Jam at the Clark County Amphitheater: The end is no end

Pic from 2006 of these guys in some band from the 90s

Pic from 2006 of these guys in some band from the 90s

The end of summer and start of autumn always leaves me disoriented. The sunsets arrive earlier, the mornings require more layers, and the wind has started to grow teeth that nip at your arms and make you carry yourself a little tighter. And this wind, in all its biting fury, was out last night in Ridgefield, WA at the infamous Amphitheater at Clark County. But even the elements couldn’t deter from the well-oiled machine that is Pearl Jam. Seriously, if you could figure out how to power a vehicle using the energy expended by the band, you’d reduce the fuel needs of the entire Pacific Northwest region.

At this point in the band’s career, it’s reductive to think of Pearl Jam as a success story of the long-defunct grunge era, even though it’s not an inaccurate claim. Their presence on mainstream radio owed a great debt to Seattle and the popular taste at the time for all things angry and opaque and genuine in pop music. But the grunge mythos petered out, and Pearl Jam continued to record albums and play shows. Years passed and musical trends shifted and Ticketmaster still sucked the life out of everyone, and Pearl Jam persisted in making new music and playing it for people in many cities and countries. So even though it might be difficult to separate the band from their iconic origins, they did something to ensure a life beyond the fad. They simply kept playing and playing, until their lineup became a stable and solid team, and their fanbase got to view them as more than part of a sonic curiosity and instead as true musicians.

Lucky me. Not only did this mean that I saw a heartfelt and indubitably rocking two-hour show, but it also meant that I got an opening set by Ben Harper’s newest project, Ben Harper and the Relentless7. His band’s name is a fitting one, as their sound is the most straight-up rock that Harper has probably ever worked on. The Southern roots twang provided a fun kickoff to the night, as did the Jack Daniels snuck in via my purse. Later in the evening, Harper joined Pearl Jam to play the slide guitar during a performance of “Red Mosquito.”

  • Pearl Jam ~ No Code ~ Epic

“Red Mosquito”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Another huge treat, probably one specific to the Portland area tour stop, was a visit from Corbin Tucker. It will always be a huge regret that I missed Sleater-Kinney’s farewell show in Portland, where Eddie Vedder made an appearance to properly send off the trio. And then Carrie Brownstein uprooted herself to Manhattan, making me feel more Sleater-Kinney-less than ever. However, that loss was somewhat mitigated by Tucker and Vedder’s duet cover of a John Doe song. The original was distributed as a Christmas gift single to members of the Pearl Jam fan club, but it was the first time I’d heard it. I was kind of sad that I couldn’t have first listened to it in the safety of my living room, since the warmth of the harmonies showed in an amphitheater setting, though probably not as much as it does on a recording. This was followed by Vedder doing a solo acoustic version of “The End,” a slower track off the latest studio album, Backspacer. Although the subject matter is death, as Vedder explained at the start of the song, I preferred to think of it as a mass eulogy to a long, sweltering, and fun-filled summer. For Pearl Jam, I hope it’s the mark of another creation cycle.

“Golden State”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  • Pearl Jam ~ Backspacer ~ Island

“The End”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Many thanks to chappg for his camera work at the concert. Without his efforts, this entry would be quite sparse.

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