Twenty Years of Pearl Jam

Sometimes, in the strangest of places, I’m reminded about the passing of time, and how my life has changed as I’ve grown older.

Recently I went to a Pearl Jam concert, nearly 20 years after the first time I ever saw them at Soldier Field in Chicago.

I remember a few things about that trip. I remember riding in the back of a pickup truck through the streets of Chicago with a group of friends, partying the entire way. Our music was cranked way up, the conversations we had were about music and parties back at college. I was young. I was stupid. I was reckless.

This time I drove my minivan to the concert. I was absolutely buckled up. My friend and I were listening to the radio at a reasonable volume and our conversations were about things like jobs, wives and kids.

The crowd demographic at the PJ show was a pretty much me. Male, middle 30’s to early 40’s. The arena was packed, it was hot and crowded, with long lines for everything. Twenty years ago this combination probably would’ve started fights, now everyone was tolerating lines. There were lines to get in, lines for the bathroom, lines for food and drinks, but due to the fact that many of us have endured lines with our kids at amusement parks we were all quite fine with it. Or maybe it had something to do with it being past most of our normal bedtimes.

None of this really hit me until I closely looked at the guys in the band. They looked like you would expect 50 year olds that have been playing music for thirty plus years to look. The extra pounds, the wrinkles that were extra defined on the band members faces due to the high definition big screen. At that point, I realized I’m the guy watching the old timer band on stage. When I was younger, I remember thinking, “Who goes to see these bands full of old guys play live?” But now I get it. I’m that guy and I’m ok with it. I’m not saying by any means that I’m geriatric at the age of 38, in many ways I feel better and am in better physical shape than I was in my teens, nor am I saying the band didn’t completely rock. PJ played for over three hours straight. Eddie Vedder at age 50 is still a complete rock star, sure he no longer climbs and hangs from the rafters 50 feet above the stage, but he’s still the wine swilling, guitar smashing showman he’s always been. In case you think the guys in the band are oblivious to the fact that they and their fans are getting older, they’re paying attention too, at one point in the night Eddie Vedder said, “We’ll keep playing if you don’t mind paying the babysitter.”

I didn’t mind one bit…and thanks for the reminder Ed, you’re only as old as you think you are.


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