May 1st, 2010
New Orleans Fair Grounds
New Orleans, Louisiana
So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star/Lukin/Corduroy/In My Tree/Got Some/Given to Fly/Even Flow/Severed Hand/Nothingman/Down/Unthought Known/1/2 Full/Daughter/Comatose/Supersonic/Do the Evolution/Why Go
Tremor Christ/Just Breathe/Better Man/The Fixer/Alive/Kick Out the Jams
I think after Lollapalooza '07 I said, "No more festivals." BUT I had never been to New Orleans and the opportunity just sort of happened, so I seized it. I flew in the day before the show but did not attend Jazz Fest for that day. Instead, I met up with Dan and Lynn. We ate a late lunch and explored New Orleans.
Leading up to the show, the weather prospects looked grim. Thunderstorms? The good news it that even though it was overcast, humid and hot as hell, not to mention windy - it never rained. I actually would've preferred the kind of crappy weather we experienced than sun and extreme heat. It was actually good. Would've been better if it was 10 degrees cooler, but you can't win it all.
I could tell upon entering the gates at Jazz Fest that this wasn't the typical festival. The attire was way more lax than I could have imagined. 95% of the people were wearing sandals (in fact, maybe it was just Dan, Lynn and I that weren't wearing sandals out of everyone) and most chicks were wearing skirts or dresses. There were also a ton of children. This wasn't Lollapalooza, that's for sure.
Dan and Lynn's cousins got to the grounds right when gates opened and took a huuuuuuge spot with tarps and blankets Stonesiiiide. They really had a good spot --- the furthest you could go and right near drinks and the portojohns.
Soon after I arrived, I found Dan and Lynn and we went on the search for food. I had scoped out the food before I left and couldn't believe how little vegetarian options there were. Lynn and I scoured the booths and I ended up with a cup of fruit salad and some hummus with pita bread. It actually was good so it wasn't as horrendous as I thought it was going to be.
The festival was just getting more and more crowded and the main stage was really getting invaded. I figured after we walked back to "home base" that there was no way I was attempting to get food before PJ's set. We spent the rest of our time before Pearl Jam's set napping on the blankets. It was quite nice. Oh yes, and my shoes were off. If I can take my shoes off, I'm a happy camper.
About an hour and a half before PJ's set, Lynn and I waited in lines for the potties and grabbed a bottle of water for the show. We headed towards the main stage at about 4:00 (an artist was still performing at this point). Got separated from Dan and Lynn, however, it was funny because they ended up in pretty much the same spot as me but on the opposite side of the "t" barrier.
I definitely won the lottery with a peach standing next to me. I really didn't need to work my way to the front but I was with someone who wanted to be close and this was her first Pearl Jam experience so I just went with it. We wound up next to this woman who had waited "5 hours without being able to get food or drink" and everyone surrounding her started telling us what a bitch she had been. She did not want us taking or invading her space. I get it, however, this woman was overweight and in her 50s or 60s. If she wanted space, there was plenty of room in the seated area to enjoy the breeze (haha in fact, very early into the band's set, I was dreaming of that area). This was a rock show, gene admin, squeezing in happens. She kept trying to take jabs at me and the others around me. At one point she asked me what high school I went to --- to apparently make a backhanded comment to me about the "type" of person I was. The whole time she spit insults at people around us, her lips quivered. Finally, she thought she could make us sympathize by telling us she doesn't have a house. Just an empty lot. 5 of her 6 cats drowned in Katrina. And her mother died (*after Katrina). I'm not saying I didn't feel bad for this woman, but she DEFINITELY felt entitled to being close to the stage (which we weren't) and entitled to THIS event being HER's because she lost so much in Katrina. I get that, but don't take that beef up with me. Maybe she thought that me flying in from Detroit made me less entitled, but jeeze, no one is entitled to anything, honey. If anything, take it up with the festival organizers so they can have a Katrina survivors area like they have the special VIP section. Wait, what's that? Pretty much everyone at Jazz Fest was a Katrina survivor? That's right. Hmm. At one point during the show, we had some girl who claimed her friends were 5 feet in front of us and she stood in front of me and this woman. I was annoyed because I felt like passing out and one more body was not what I needed. She tried to squeeze through but no one would let her so I was the lucky winner and she threw off my whole line of vision. So I said, "Are you leaving?" And she turned out to be really apologetic and squatted most of the time so I could see (and she left after some hit, can't remember what and actually said, "Thank you" to me). Anyway, when I had asked this chick to leave, the Katrina woman said, "Karma is a bitch, huh?" I should've said, "No, but you are." But I was too involved in my show. I've dedicated way too many words for this woman but she was unbelievable.
Prior to us finding our spot, I passed a chick in an Ed solo tank and she was screaming "Boom!!!" And then when no one joined her, she said, "I guess no one knows who that is!" I couldn't resist. I had to say it, "No, I think everyone just thinks he sucks!" And she was like, "REALLY!?! Why?" As I kept squeezing through I said, "HONKEY TONKING IN THE FREE WORLD! He's ruined so many songs!" And then people around me kind of were like, "That's true." Man, it was unnerving to be so close to someone that contributes to "Boom" chanting.
Prior to PJ's set, someone came on and talked about the fact the show was being broadcast in Iraq and they popped the forces that were watching the event and there was some correspondence between them. The family of one of the men on the screen was onstage. It was seriously so insane and emotional. It's so nice to fully follow a band with some conviction and compassion. I felt proud. What a nice way to introduce who they are to a bunch of people who never would've attending a Pearl Jam show.
Because it was on the verge of rain all day, I kind of felt like maybe Wash was going to open. I know, call me crazy. I didn't think it was going to be a typical opener. It just seemed like it would be something different. Never in a million billion years did I think that band would come out and play So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star. Really? Really??? Wow. Right then and there this "lame festival show" was automatically not lame. At all. I didn't need to hear much more. They could've played Crazy Mary next, it didn't matter!
Throwing me for a loop with So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star but then playing Lukin next? This was one of those "Yes, THIS is why this band is awesome!" Everyone poo-poos certain shows before they even happen which is so funny (I'm guilty of it, too) but when they do the complete opposite of what we all think will happen it makes me giggle.
The band was so ready to rock as clearly indicated by going into Corduroy. And then In My Tree (!), Got Some (which people were really into) and then Given to Fly (super yum and again people loved it.
Even Flow was the first hit of the night and people were definitely into it but NO WHERE near Better Man and even later, Alive (Alive was definitely the winner of this show).
Severed Hand was great. Nothingman was great but this is when I began to feel the effects of being hot, surrounded by people and needing water. When I was moving around prior to this, I was fine. But stopping? Eek! This is definitely where I lost my momentum. I had to chill out a bit for the rest of the show. Humidity is not my friend at shows.
Never would've thought the next three would've been played at this show (Down, Unthought Known and 1/2 Full). Haha and that is why this show was sooooo great!
They had tried playing Daughter before 1/2 Full (??? I think) so that got switched around a little. The crowd definitely liked Ed's mimic singaong schtick. In fact, even after he was done and continued with his own deal, the crowd started doing what he had the crowd repeat and then Ed joined in. This was a crowd that loves their music, that's for sure.
Now looking at the set, WOW! The last four songs of the set? Burners! Woo! Comatose, Supersonic, Do the Evolution (again, the crowd reacted greeeeat to this song) and closing out with Why Go.
Encore break was short (thank gawd) and Ed discussed before Tremor Christ that they recorded this song in New Orleans. This wasn't the first New Orleans speak, he talked about his arrest (haha) and also talked about the oil spill - noting that the BP execs should send their children down to NO for the summer to clean up the fucking mess instead of going to a pretty beach. The crowd loved it. I would've loved a Don't Go BP Amoco improv. You win some, you lose some.
Just Breathe was really great and the crowd cheered like crazy for it. It sounded so good, too. Maybe I was on crack but it sounded better now than it did in Philly. Maybe it's cheesy, but couples started slow dancing - it was such a good vibe. And it was played without the strings. Maybe with the band standing up to play it (er, well really Ed) gave the song some more positive energy.
Better Man was next and while the crowd went nuts, they weren't singing loud enough for Ed to stop singing ala a normal show. Oh well, it was kind of nice to get out of the schtick.
People also reacted alarmingly well to The Fixer. I guess I just don't listen to the radio enough ;-)
Alive came next and the crowd reacted so well, yet again. It wasn't long and drawn out, it was the perfect length and the energy was great. It was definitely where the crowd got the loudest and most into a song. Alive was the winner and it fell so naturally into the set.
And then the Ed exclaimed, "It's time to kick out the jams motherfucker!!!!" Woo!!! And that was the end. It seemed like there would be more but by the action on stage, it was clear there wasn't going to be anymore :-(
I saw this show with a huge music fan who wasn't really familiar with Pearl Jam's music and this was their first time seeing the band. A "virgin" if you want to call it that. This person was so amazed by the band's energy and had plenty of positive, unprompted things to say about the show. This made me proud of my boys. I'm sure there were many other Pearl Jam virgins completely unexpectantly satisfied by this show.
One of the weird things is that this was a festival crowd, and Ed never introduced the band. I think he was consumed with the troops, the event. Whatever it may be. Regardless, the show was energetic, fun - SO glad I went! I am so looking forward to the rest of the shows on the 2010 tour.
However, I swear, this is my last festival :-)
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