Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PJ20: nineteen

02.20.98 - Alexander M. Baldwin Amphitheater - Maui, HI

This "best of" list isn't meant to go in chronological order. I'll be saving my most memorable moments for the end. This one would have been up there, but I feel obligated to at least start at the beginning. I was a junior in high school and up to this point Pearl Jam was "that popular grunge band". Like most people, I was introduced to them from what I saw on MTV and heard on local radio stations. You'd have to be living under a rock if you didn't know Jeremy, Evenflow, Daughter, Elderly Woman, Betterman or Spin The Black Circle as a child of the nineties.

It wasn't till Yield that I really started paying attention. The tide was receded for grunge, but Pearl Jam delivered an album that immediately grabbed me. As fate would have it my first concert would be the Yield tour opener in Maui, Hawaii. Let's just say one of my good friends was even crazier about Pearl Jam than I was and secured tickets. I convinced my parents it was a once in lifetime experience and they eventually granted me permission to go. So my friend's Dad made the accommodations and we were off to paradise.

The long trip to arrive at our destination was only the beginning of the wait. I remember arriving at the amphitheater early enough to catch the end of soundcheck. Of the 5,000 lucky ones who made the show, we were one of the first few in line and sprinted to the stage when the gates finally opened. Was this really happening?!?! Hear we were in paradise with the North Shore just beyond the stage about to get our faces ripped off by Mudhoney and Pearl Jam.

After Mudhoney, the crush of the crowd got bad in anticipation for Pearl Jam. I'll never forget that drawn out greeting from Ed when they took the stage. "Alohaaaaaa......," and with that we were off. By the time Corduroy and Hail Hail finished we had to retreat a bit from the rail as the crush got a little tighter. On the way back I got acclimated with my first couple mosh pits. The flying elbows didn't bother me, but it was hard to pay attention to the show with the ever present threat of getting decked.

We finally found our comfort zone as the band began Faithfull. The Yield era was just beginning, but most songs played from the album sounded like they've been performed live for years. It would end up being the shortest Pearl Jam show I ever attended due to the early curfew, but it still packed a good punch. This would also be the only show I would see without Matt Cameron behind the drum kit.

By the time we left the venue drenched in sweat and beat up from holding our ground, I was hooked. Yield will forever be one of my alltime favorite albums. To be a part of the warm-up shows to this monumental tour is something I'll always cherish. Hearing the radio hits live was like discovering them for the first time. THIS was Pearl Jam. Luckily, there was a taper in attendance to preserve the moment. The links below are for the tagged mp3s. The sound check is also included. Enjoy!

Pearl Jam 02.20.98 mp3 Download Part 1

Pearl Jam 02.20.98 mp3 Download Part 2