Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hard Times and Hard Rock in PA


That's really all I can say about my concert-going experience on Monday night. However, since I'm not trying to win an award for "most cryptic blog entry", I shall expound. I don't want to turn this blog into the online-diary variety, but this tale requires telling. Especially because, if I don't tell it, my darling best friend will, no doubt, out me in the comments section. This is what I get for pointing and laughing at celebrities all the time I guess. Three fingers are pointing right back at me and the idiot light is flashing.

As you all know by this point, I love me some Pearl Jam. I was very excited to be going to the concert in Philly. I was also being very OCD about keeping the tickets in my line of vision. The last thing I wanted was to drive all the way to Harrisburg (where I was picking up my best friend and her husband) and realizing that I didn't have them. I checked on those tickets like they were a newborn baby, like every 10 minutes on the drive down, and breathed a sigh of relief each time. Aaaaah. Still there. Here I come, Eddie. I've got the golden tickets.

I got to my friends' house with just enough time to comb the wind-tailored knots out of my hair and slap some makeup on. We wanted to leave so we would have enough time to grab something to eat and relax. We left at 5:00, which meant that we would arrive by 7:00 at the LATEST. The show started at 7, but we really didn't care if we missed the opening act. About 40 minutes into the drive, my friend Angela asked where the tickets were. I don't know if everyone in the car heard a loud thumping noise, but if they did, that was just my heart falling into my stomach. I DIDN'T KNOW. Holy Moses, I left them back at their house. I am officially a moron. Somewhere between their house and my car, my OCD was cured and I didn't give the tickets a second thought. Unfortunately, there is a big wall that separates the two sides of the turnpike so I couldn't immediately screech to a halt and pull a U-turn. We had to drive however many miles (all distances felt like a million miles to me at that point) to the next exit, get off, turn around and go back and get the tickets. A family of ulcers immediately formed in my gut, and I became an unblinking, rigid thing, leaning forward as I was driving as if that would somehow propel the car back to Harrisburg faster. Then of course, with confidence in myself and the fairness of life shot, I started imagining that the tickets wouldn't be at the house either. They couldn't have sprouted feet and walked away, but I was sure at that point that forces were conspiring against me. I have a theory on exactly what force it was too, which I will explain in a minute.

To make an already long story slightly shorter, we got back to the house and the tickets were, indeed, there. So, we hightailed it back and I kept along at a nice steady clip of about 80 mph in the hopes that we would get there just as PJ was stepping onstage. Worst case scenario, we thought, would be that we'd miss the first song or two.

Has anyone been to Philly? Are any of my readers from Philly? I have a suggestion. You need about 5 more lanes on every street. I have never seen a more gridlocked city in my life. Well, I shouldn't say gridlocked because traffic was at least moving, but there were an unbelievable number of cars out for a Monday evening. It's like they're trying to fit the population of New York City into a much smaller area. I'd never been there before, and I didn't get to see much of it, but I wasn't too pleased with it that night. Then we had to take the giant circle tour around Wachovia Center because they only had one parking lot gate open, and of course it was the one that was 180 degrees from where we started. The only positive was that we didn't have to pay to park, which is virtually unheard of. I don't know if that's just because we got there so late or what, but I wasn't complaining.

Turns out we didn't get there until 9:00. The band was in the middle of a song when we walked in, but I was just hoping that we wouldn't be there for 3 or 4 more and then they'd say, "Goodnight Philadelphia!" I checked The Sky I Scrape today for the setlist and according to their sources it was as follows:

Ed pre-set w/Sleater-Kinney: Promised Land (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Set: Wash, Hail Hail, Brain Of J, Spin The Black Circle, Given To Fly, Sad, Alone, Even Flow, Green Disease, Faithfull, Whipping, Not For You, Leatherman, Betterman, Nothingman, Once, Bleed For Me (?), Blood
Encore 1: Around The Bend, Harvest Moon (w/Sleater-Kinney), Hard To Imagine, Crown Of Thorns, Crazy Mary, Alive
Encore 2: Last Kiss, In My Tree, Do The Evolution, Sonic Reducer, Little Sister (Elvis Presley cover), Leaving Here (w/Sleater-Kinney), Rockin' In The Free World (w/Sleater-Kinney), Yellow Ledbetter

When we first walked into the arena, I could hear music but wasn't able to immediately recognize the song. I realize now that it was "Whipping", which has never been one of my favorites. The first full song we heard, although we were still looking for our seats during, was "Not For You". We were completely situated by the time they broke into "Betterman". (By the way, I'm 99% certain that "Leatherman" came after "Betterman" in the set, so that list above may not be entirely accurate.)

I knew that Eddie would come out before the show and either do something solo or with the opening act. He's pretty much famous for doing that. I love "Promised Land", so that would've been nice to hear. Aside from that, it looks like we missed 10 songs. It pains me to have missed "Even Flow", "Given to Fly" and "Hail Hail". I've never heard them do "Alone" live, which is one of those rare B-sides, so I would like to have heard that too. Actually, it sucks that I missed any of it! The only song of those 10 that I don't like is "Spin the Black Circle".

Even with being so late, we still got to see a 2 hour show. And as I always say, some Pearl Jam is better than none. At least I didn't miss "Corduroy" or "I Got Id" or I would be having a minor spaz-out right now. Overall, it was a good show. They always aim to please.

Still, there were some issues. I'm usually loath to say anything too negative when it comes to these guys, but maybe driving for what seems like two days straight makes me feel inclined to lodge a few complaints. The biggest of which is that the Wachovia Center's sound system sucks. It sucks hard. I have seen these guys on three other occasions and every time I was able to hear them perfectly. Eddie may be a bit of a mumbler, but he's not that bad. It seemed like it was either too loud or there was too much static or feedback, but whatever it was really did injustice to their music. Not to mention, I could barely understand half of what Eddie said to the audience in between songs let alone make out the actual song lyrics. It was still a good show, but the worst out of the four times I've seen them. (Granted, PJ's worst is generally 10 times better than a lot of bands' best.)

The other issue was that I think I was just so stressed out from the freaking Abbott and Costello routine we just went through to simply get to the show with tickets in hand, that it sort of lessened my enjoyment of the whole thing. I still felt a bit on edge, even after I got there. I kind of felt like maybe Eddie should've come up and given me a big hug or something, and then I could've relaxed! Maybe I'll write him a sob-story letter and hope that he'll take pity on me and bring the boys to my back yard for a private show. A girl can dream.

My third and final gripe has to do with the cover songs. Now, Pearl Jam has always been known for throwing in anywhere from 1-3 covers at every show. And, generally, I like it because they tend to pick really good songs to cover. They either go for great, older songs that you never hear anymore like Split Enz' "I Got You" or crowd favorites like The Who's "Baba O'Riley" or, as with this show, Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". However, I felt they did way too many covers this time around. They have so many good songs of their own, that they really don't need to fill up the time with other people's. True that it especially annoyed me because I had already missed a bunch of their songs from the beginning of the set, but it still would've bothered me had I been there for the whole show.

I have no idea what the first cover song was, and apparently whoever put together that set list on the above linked website didn't either, as evidenced by the question mark after the possible title "Bleed for Me". All together, there were five covers performed. If I wanted to be super-technical about it, there were actually nine,but they can get away with four of them. I'll give them "Last Kiss" and "Leaving Here", because they actually recorded both songs. The former was one of the fan club singles which ended up becoming a monster hit for them, and the latter is on their collection of B-sides, Lost Dogs. "Crazy Mary" was a Victoria Williams song, but PJ did record it for the Sweet Relief album. "Crown of Thorns" is a Mother Love Bone song, a band which was kind of a precursor to Pearl Jam and founded by bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard, so it's really like half theirs.

I don't mean to sound so picky about a band that I love so much, but after such a nutty experience getting to the show, the last thing I wanted to hear was a bunch of covers. The other five could've easily been replaced by "Corduroy", "I Got Id", "...Small Town", "State of Love and Trust" and "Rearviewmirror"...or any of 50 other songs I could probably name off the top of my head. I just can't wrap my mind around why they would do that. Cover bands are a dime a dozen. Pearl Jam is not a cover band! But who knows, maybe they were just tired. It was the last show of the tour, after all, and one that was tacked on at the last minute.

Speaking of covers, during "Crazy Mary", something happened with that stellar sound system. I'm not sure exactly what but something came unplugged or some other technical issue that I wouldn't know anything about occured, causing this loud, piercing feedback to resonate through the arena. They had to stop the song while the sound crew made some adjustments, and Eddie said that it "freaked him out" because he thought maybe it was the ghost of Mary. Nope, it wasn't her. Remember when I said I knew what force was conspiring against me? Yeah, it was him. Kurt Cobain. I have talked so much smack about that guy since his death that he finally decided to take his angst out on me. So the following is for him.

Look Kurt, just to set the record straight, I didn't hate you and I don't hate Nirvana. I own a Nirvana album. I liked a lot of your songs. I thought you seemed like a decent guy. I just don't get why the media has turned you into some Christ-like figure because you couldn't deal with life and took the rock'n roll cliche's way out. I won't apologize for not canonizing you like the rest of Generation X. I won't apologize for insisting that Pearl Jam is a much better band than Nirvana ever was. I won't apologize for thinking that you were kind of a jerk for you and your bandmates' snotty little comments about them over the years. They've stood the test of time and you didn't. I'm sorry if you don't like hearing this, but it's all true. That doesn't mean that I don't wish that you hadn't killed yourself. I wish you hadn't. If for no other reason, because you left your child alone with your psychotic, train wreck of wife, who can't take care of herself let alone your kid. If you're gonna haunt anyone, haunt her. I may break out in a rash when people start the Cobain/Lennon comparisons, but that doesn't mean that I don't have some respect for you. And Eddie, bless his heart, respects you even though you didn't seem to give him much in return. So there. Rest in peace Kurt. Because next time you try to come between me and Pearl Jam, I'm hiring the ghost of Layne Staley to bust you up.


Neo said...

Beck - I'm from Philly, and yes our traffic is scewed. It's not quite as bad as New York's though.

I didn't even know Pearl Jam was touring, the last time I checked they were overseas.

So, I missed it. Hopefully I'll see them one of these years.

I missed Nirvana the same way. They were playing the Armory here in Philly, but the tickets were overpriced. This was in the first year of the nevermind tour.

I feel for Kurt, and to be honest, I don't think the guy killed himself, but that's another topic all together.

But I will be at the NIN show here next month. It will be the second time I've seen Trent since "With Teeth was released and he started the new tour.

Hopefully you tasted one of our world famous cheesesteaks while you were here.


Melanie said...

Yeah, I don't understand the whole Cobain=god thing...and I've never even heard the Cobain=Lennon thing! Now THAT scares me.

Teri said...

Oh wow. I hope that's the end of the bad mojo.

The Zombie Lama said...

Pearl Jam is SO much better than Nirvana ever was.

An80sNut said...

Damn, that is the most horrific drive to a concert that I've ever heard that didn't include a car wreck and dragging a lifeless significant other to the show because he had the tickets and money for drinks. I'm a completist. I would have absolutely freaked and still be freaked for not seeing the opening. I'm like that with movies and television shows also (Tivo saved a lot of household items from getting broken." Congrats on making it there though. It's just good that someone mentioned the tix when they did. B)

Sangroncito said...

Pearl Jams!

Mr. Happy said...

Man what a story. Sorry you had to go thru so much, I'm sure that sucked a little.

I agree with you on Kurt. Poor Frances Bean doesn't stand a chance.

Masha said...

stuff like your ticket scenario ALWAYS happens to me

Bar Bar A said...

ok, that's a picture of you right? that's a great photo! you're hot. sorry to hear you had such a headache of a time getting to the concert, I would have been freaking out.

I referenced you today on my blog because I heard some "scoop" so am waiting to see if you post about it or not.

I've never heard the Cobain-Lennon thing either. That's just wrong. I liked Kurt but comparing him to John...no, no, no.

David said...

neo - of course he di dnot kill himself, he is on a secret Island with elvis, working for Haliburton, flying a black helicopter. Better keep your tin foil hat on!
Beck, I did that left tickest at home thing once at a David Bowie concert. I pulled a hard 180 and flew down the hill from Universal Ampitheater. I almost hit another car head on. My date about died from fright. we go t home - got tix, raced back and the tix were for... the night before!!! I bought some from a scalper and they were better seats. I was sorta crazy then - really crazy now. sorry about the Ghost of kurt giving you crap.. hope you have worked it out.

Neo said...

David - I didn't mean he wasn't dead. I just meant he didn't kill himself. He had some help.

Sorry Beck....

Anonymous said...

firstly, kurt didnt kill himself, n even if he did, atleadt he isnt livin a waste as eddie or you for tht matter...live up girl, n stop blamin others for mishaps in ur life, let alone angles n ghosts...

BeckEye said...

Neo - unfortunately I didn't get to have a philly cheesesteak, but I was craving one big time. We were just running so late that I really didn't get to see much of anything other than the concert.

Melanie - I even think Lennon was overrated in the whole "voice of a generation" regard. Still, you can't compare songs of peace and love to songs of angst. I think Cobain was a good songwriter, and a lot of kids could relate to him, but if he were alive today, he wouldn't be this iconic figure that the media has made him out to be. I don't even believe that Nirvana would still be together.

Teri - If it weren't for bad mojo I'd have no mojo at all. :)

Zombie - No argument here, obviously.

80s Nut - Yeah I just kept thanking God that we didn't get all the way to Philly before we realized the tix were not with us. I would've pulled all my hair out.

Sangroncito - Si, si.

Mr. Happy - As far as Kurt goes, it's a shame that F.B. won't have known him well. Knowing Courtney at all is guaranteed to screw her up.

Masha - You got the bad mojo too?

WW - I'm hot!?! Wow, that made my week. Sorry I didn't come up with the scoop. Now I'm curious to know what it is! It's not the rumored Nick/Jessica split is it?

David - My new best friend will be "will call". You might want to try that too, next time!

To all the conspiracy theorists...it's not out of the realm of possibility that Cobain was murdered. With a nut-case, fame-hungry wife like Courtney Love, anything is possible. Still, there is no proof. I never could figure out why it's so hard for people to believe that a guy who talked and sang about suicide often and seemed to hate fame could've killed himself. I adored Michael Hutchence, and the theory conspiracies have been flying around regarding his death too. Until any concrete evidence of foul play appears though, it has to be assumed that he did kill himself. Drugs do strange things to people.

And for Anonymous, they say you haven't made it as a blogger until you get your first "angry anonymous guy" comment. So thank you. Also, you are obviously a Cobain fan. One thing that I truly respected about him was that he was opinionated and never had any problem telling people what he thought, whether it was popular or not. He didn't hide. If you can't put your name on your comment, one has to assume you're either a wuss or you really don't even believe in what you're saying.


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

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I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

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"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

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