Before this past Monday night, it had been several years since I had seen a show in a venue as large as the Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center, formerly Great Woods) in Mansfield, MA. And the last time I had seen Pearl Jam there was in, I think, '91, during the Lollapalooza tour, when they played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and several grunge-era bands (Soundgarden? Alice in Chains? Who can remember?). So I experienced quite a bit of culture shock as I entered the grounds of the outdoor stadium on a sweltering June evening, surrounded by an eclectic mix of fans: middle-aged couples of respectable income; bandana-sporting transients from Seattle and Vancouver; testosterone-laden twentysomethings from the 128 belt, and the four of us: Bryan, my sister Kaytie, her friend Jess, and me.
I confess that I was almost giddy with anticipation. Pearl Jam tends to sell out shows in about 10 minutes, so in all honesty, I'm so out of the loop these days that I don't usually even hear about a show until it's too late. And I generally try to avoid large concert crowds, which means that when we see shows, we tend to go to quaint little music spaces such as the Calvin Theatre in Northampton and the Somerville Theatre outside of Boston.
I'll spare you the details of the parking lot (not much has changed, except that there is now a "premium parking" lot where you can pay $40 and be in and out, as opposed to waiting in a long line of cars. Extortion!).
As we filed slowly up to our seats, sweat and beer and cigarette breath surrounding us on all sides, I wondered, "Was it always like this? And what exactly am I doing here?" But once I was able to breathe again, and once the band took the stage, there was no question. I didn't stop to think "am I too old for this" as I whooped and danced and sang along to old classics like "Elderly Woman behind a Counter in Small Town" and new protest songs like "No More War". And as Eddie Vedder belted out, in his hypnotic baritone, the opening lyrics to "animal," and I leaned over to Kaytie and yelled, "How does he do that?" she responded, "I don't know, but it's funny how easily I can be reduced to a lovestruck adolescent."
And as corny as it is, I had to agree. "I know!" I squawked. "I want to marry Eddie Vedder right now!" And we both swooned over his long, sweat-soaked locks and scruffy beard. The man is sexy, there's no question.
And now it's too days later and I can recollect my emotions with tranquility, as Wordsworth would say, and reflect with amusement on my silly girlish declaration. But it's fun to be 21 every now and then, and what better outlet for that energy than a Pearl Jam show? A little bouncing and howling every now and then keeps it fresh, no?
And in keeping with the decadent spirit, Kaytie and I, staunch advocates of the "whole foods diet," punctuated the show with a mustard-covered hot dog. Guess that's what passes for radical in our world these days :]/