The River Revival

So, an exciting end to last week, starting last Thursday with the epic Bruce Springsteen concert that almost didn’t happen (for me). Tickets for the cheap seats gone even though I got online minutes after the show went on sale weeks earlier and sticker shock! On my budget (and my hours were just getting back to normal after some short shifts). . . Oh, man, I wanted to, but the seat that was something like $125 that was the cheapest they had at the time all the way across Key Arena. . .I’m someone who barely has anything after rent (which is way below market) and other bills.

So I thought I’d see if anyone had an extra cheap seat on Backstreets. No luck. Then for some reason I had the thought to go back and check on Ticketmaster and. . .a cheap seat had reappeared. $65 before fees raised it to $88.75, in behind the stage (which for a Springsteen concert is a good seat, he doesn’t block the view back there). Not only that, I got a slightly better paying job with steadier hours and a shorter commute shortly after. After so many runs of bad luck, it’s kind of eerie. . .

View from my cheap seat before the Springsteen concert!

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The River, which he played straight through, is also one of my favorite albums. One of the songs I especially waited for was Independence Day. Many of Springsteen’s songs about his dad remind me of mine. Independence Day especially gets to me though, and even before my father’s death and burial just before the Fourth of July (after a year of care and sometimes neglect from the VA starting just before the Fourth the previous year).

So say goodbye it’s Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say

Springsteen’s lines have a way of bringing back clear memories and the one this brings back was when my mother was sick a few years before she died and my shock when we went to the mall and he walked into one of the expensive stores, something he’d never do, and looked at a fancy nightgown and said he wished he could afford to buy it for her.

Hungry Heart is a great song to dry your tears by. . .and especially when Bruce is surfing the crowd!

The River, of course, one of his most haunting songs. . .”Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?”

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy

Bruce, of course, has never forgotten there are a lot of people not doing well, and that has both continued to reflect in his songs and his raising money for food banks, in our case, the West Seattle Food Bank.  I dropped $5 in one of their buckets on the way in. There didn’t seem to be too many people paying attention to them. Until. . .Springsteen spoke about them on stage and announced our hometown boy Eddie Vedder would be matching our donations, just before Eddie joined him on stage to sing Bobby Jean.

People were filling the buckets on the way out (and I dropped in $15 more).  $24,000 according to the West Seattle Food Bank (before Eddie’s match!):

Of course, this being a Springsteen concert, people walking out was still a long time away. Meanwhile, Bruce pulled someone out of the crowd to dance with him for Dancing in the Dark . . .

Did I mention Springsteen doesn’t play encores any more? No, because he just plays 3 1/2 hours straight through and never leaves the stage. So, about a half hour before the show wrapped up at nearly midnight with an epic version of Shout (part of it below), I started seeing all these people in hard hats on both sides of the stage. . . the crew to take everything down . . . waiting. . . and waiting. . .

I’ve been lucky enough to see Bruce Springsteen and even luckier when it’s with the E Street Band, for over 30 years, and he (and they) still bring it!

Eddie Vedder’s Birthday – Still Alive & Rocking!

In honor of Eddie Vedder’s 45th Birthday on December 23, a few Pearl Jam videos:

Alive: This one’s early, I believe, Pinkpop, 1992:

Do the Evolution: Berlin, Aug. 15, 2009:

& slowing it down a little,

Just Breathe: Austin City Limits, Oct. 4, 2009:

Pearl Jam’s full Austin City Limits episode is still available online at:

http://video.pbs.org/video/1335500400/

Happy Birthday, Eddie!

Well, I may be a few minutes too late (which is actually early for me). . .

Pearl Jam’s Local Shout Outs

I have been meaning to give a shout out to Pearl Jam’s local shout outs at their second Seattle show (the one I didn’t go to, being one of their poorer fans). Maybe now is good timing anyways, given that the official bootlegs of the Seattle shows are available on cd and to download in the Pearl Jam goods section (see my previous blog entry for a review and YouTube clips I found from show 1).

First, a shout out by Eddie to his “favorite record store in West Seattle, Easy Street Records” and a driving version of (what else?) – Spin the Black Circle!

I wonder if some of their younger fans even get the lyrics:

See this needle…a see my hand…
Drop, drop, dropping it down…oh, so gently…
Well here it comes…I touch the plane…
Turn me up…won’t turn you away…

or

Pull it out…a paper sleeve…
Oh, my joy…only you deserve conceit…

Ah, remember?

You’re so warm…oh, the ritual…when I lay down your crooked arm…

Although, they were selling a lot of records (or, vinyl, as the kids now-days call it) at Easy Street’s midnight sale. So, they have fans that don’t just remember!  Still, I remember how old I felt coming across a discussion on the Pearl Jam message board of one young guy trying to explain “vinyl” to another, then saying that this was all in theory only, he’d never actually played a record!

At least we still have Easy Street and a few other independent record stores in Seattle.  I gather from reading other posts that they’ve disappeared from some communities. I especially like how Easy Street features and respects local artists, both long time bands like Pearl Jam and the new, up and coming ones. They have a lot of in store concerts, and an in store cafe at the West Seattle branch to bring in a little extra money. I also like how Pearl Jam is selling the cd and record at independent record stores like Easy Street (which is one of the things they negotiated for with the Target deal, no matter what you may think of them selling it there).

One more shout out from their September 22 Key Arena show, Eddie changed the lyrics to their new Supersonic song to relate to the late Supersonics basketball team, who used play the Key until they were shipped to Oklahoma and became the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Eddie had another shout out for Seattle at the Vancouver show, though.  One we really didn’t want to hear. More at a later date, but . . .

Ouch!  Are Seattle crowds really that bad?

Pearl Jam Rocks Out Seattle, Finally!

How incredible is a new Pearl Jam record/cd release at Easy Street Records in West Seattle and their first Seattle concerts in something like 5 years to start a week?  Seattle finally is the place to be for a Pearl Jam fan!

Saturday night was the Pearl Jam “Backspacer Bash” & Midnight Sale at Easy Street.  Also a non-perishable food collection for the West Seattle Food Bank, who they made an incredible (and I’m sure well needed) haul for. We got a Pearl Jam tote bag and raffle ticket for our goods and there was a long line all night.

People were in from all over.  When I got off the bus I met a couple of young women taking pictures of the Pearl Jam mural on the Easy Street wall, who were in awe that I actually lived in Seattle (not knowing how rare Pearl Jam plays here), one from Australia, the other from Italy.  I pointed them in the direction of the QFC a block away because they wanted to buy some food to donate.

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I hung out most of the time in the West 5 overflow location (with Pearl Jam music playing and winning numbers relayed as well).  I headed back to Easy Street as it was getting closer to midnight, and was standing in line in the dining room area around the corner from the counter as they were calling the final numbers.  I was saying to the guy next to me who also had an early number that they hadn’t called any of ours, when I heard them finally call one and realized it was mine.

I won the Pearl Jam vs Ames Bros book, 3 posters, spacemen stickers and temporary tatoos. Then I waited my turn and bought the new Backspacer cd and the Pearl Jam Live at Easy Street cd (which they also sell online, for folks who don’t live in Seattle). Which I know begs the question – did the guys show up?  No, but Eddie sent us a text message through the store clerk.  He said the band had their last practice session that night and he just put the kids to bed and was turning in himself, but was there in spirit and in the speakers.

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As you can see, they were selling massive quantities of the album – the record (err, vinyl as they call it these days), as well as the cd!  I thought I was being old-school calling it a record release, but it really was.

So, I was (and am) still getting to know the album by the time of the concert Monday night (which was the one I had tickets to).  I went with my friend Merri Ann, who couldn’t make it to the album release Saturday night because she was doing a triathlon that started 7 am Sunday morning with friends and family. Swim, bike, run. . . or if you’re me, sleep in! All my friends are more healthy than me. I had fan tickets, so they were good seats (while I wish my number were lower – Pearl Jam rewards their long time fans by doing it by seniority, except for a random drawing for the first 2 and I think 9th & 10th rows).

Ben Harper and Relentless 7 opened. A lot more blues and harder driving than his folk rock I’m more familiar with.  Here’s a clip I found (actually from night 2):

So Ben and his band got us rocking good before the boys came out.  Time for a short break and to notice the Tom Tomorrow spaceman design was on Matt’s drum kit, which was really cool. Tom Tomorrow, who does the This Modern World cartoons, did all the artwork on the new album.

So, the lights dimmed and out came Pearl Jam, for the first time at Key Arena in years:

They opened with Long Road. Perfect: “I have wished for so long, how I wished for you today. . .”!

The new songs sounded great, and they played a lot of them that night.  We had the premier of the Backspacer album. A lot of hard rockers and just beautiful ballads.  The album just really flows.

Amongst the Waves, which had already captivated me on the cd, was just gorgeous live:

During the first encore, they brought out a string section that included Matt Cameron’s wife, April on viola to accompany them on Just Breath and The End.

Violist

Official Pearl Jam Photo by Karen Loria

Boom Gasper, of course, accompanied them on the organ for many of the songs.  They also had a horn section for The Who’s The Real Me during the second encore.

Old songs – wow, from their catalog they played about everything I wanted to hear.  Standards like Daughter, Even Flow, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Rearview Mirror, Do the Evolution and of course, Alive. Also – Off He Goes and Given to Fly, Save You and Life Wasted, Inside Job and Indifference! Wow!

Here’s Do the Evolution, and remember, this is during their second encore:

As we were clapping after their first encore and they had already played long and hard, Merri Ann asked me, in disbelief “They’re not going to play a second encore?”

As any die hard fan knows, “Of course they are!”

On the way back to the car she asked “How old are these guys?”  Well, they’re all at least a few years younger than me, but I think they’re all somewhere in their 40s now.  “They play a second encore every night?”, still in disbelief (and this from someone who swam, biked, ran a triathlon the day before).  : )

PearlJam

Official Pearl Jam photo by Danny Clinch

They are incredible, and seem totally rejuvenated at this point.  I mean, they’ve always played so long and hard, but the leaping in air; Matt’s intensity at the drum kit; Stone’s headbanging with the mop top hair; Mike’s playing with crowd and his solos as always, incredible; Jeff with some funky moves and Eddie still sounding great, I think in spite of the cigarettes and massive quantity of wine he consumes on stage (which he does share with the crowd).

Only problem – I didn’t have enough money to see both shows!

Though maybe I shouldn’t be so greedy.  It’s just . . .they so rarely play Seattle!

Links:

Pearl Jam Goods Section: http://www.pearljam.com/goods

-for cds, t-shirts, the Ames Bros poster book, memberships (to get those good seats and a annual Christmas record single by about July) and. . . official bootlegs of all their concerts, on cd or as a download (I’m not sure how long it takes them to get them up there, but the Seattle shows will be coming).

Easy Street Records: http://easystreetonline.com/

-you can get the Pearl Jam Live at Easy Street cd here if you don’t live in Seattle.  If you do live in Seattle, come on down to either location for the cd, and check out their website for in store concerts and special events.

Pearl Jam Countdown

OK, so yes, Pearl Jam is finally playing Seattle again, and it’s less than a week from tonight, Mon. Sept. 21 (and a week from tonight, Tues. Sept 22, for the lucky ones who have tickets to that show).  Not only that, Easy Street Records is having a Saturday night party and midnight release of the new Backspacer album.  Whoo, hoo!

PearlJamChicago

The boys are definitely back and tearing it up! They’ve played several songs off the album, including Got Some which they played on the Tonight Show and I previously posted through VodPod (it’s also in the little VodPod viewer on toward the bottom of the side panel).

The FixerPearl Jam’s first single off Backspacer, has been playing on the radio and on their MySpace page for some time now, and they released the infamous Cameron Crowe shoot video on both iTunes (as a free download) and on YouTube (below) a few weeks ago.

I love it!  OK, sure it looks like an old school MTV video and not a “real” concert.  I’d forgotten how fun some of those videos were (and yes, even the Dancing in the Dark video die-hard Springsteen fans still moan about – well, the guys, anyways, the girls moan about it a little differently. . .).  Eddie and the rest of the guys look great and they’re having a blast.  At the Showbox in Seattle!  Oh, yeah!  OK, it’s a crowd of extras.  Seriously, though, if they did it with a real crowd, say after one of Mike’s side gigs, after about the third take, if not sooner, there would be guys shouting out “Play Drop the Leash, you pussies!”

They also released a video on the making of Backspacer:

Warning: Eddie throws a mean ax (no, not a guitar, the real thing)!  Living up to the “Crazy Eddie” as they refer to him in the video made for the re-issue of Ten.

EddieCrowd

Official Pearl Jam photo by Karen Loria.

I saw the silent version of this film. . .

Just Breath is another song they’ve given us a preview of, as an internet treasure hunt.  I found the mp3 (admittedly, getting the crib sheet off the Pearl Jam message pit), but lost the file.  It downloaded and played itself on Quick Time, a player I don’t use so often.  I can’t find it there or anywhere now though (except as part of the above video). 

Obviously, not a good candidate for secretly downloading the whole album ahead of time (and I missed the link anyways). Oh, yes, some of the fans are complaining about that – that the Pearl Jam message board administrator would take down links to unauthorized mp3s of the new album, other wise known as copyright infringement. Which, admittedly, is harder to draw the line at in this digital age, and by the way, the Janis Joplin video from the Festival Express film on the last entry where I talked about this has evidently been removed for . . . umm, I believe. . . copyright infringement. Truthfully, a lot of video on YouTube is iffy, and sometimes the artists or record companies call it in.

Pearl Jam is actually pretty lenient in this area, which, ironically, may be why fans get so upset when they actually say “No.  We want to release this album on our own terms.”

Pearl Jam has played one more song off the album Supersonic, here on an iffy YouTube video (the two above are from Pearl Jam’s official YouTube channel):

So we’re going to hear and be able to buy (not just pre-order) the whole album in four nights here in Seattle!  So, yes, Pearl Jam did do the Target thing as their exclusive big box store, but kept the independent record stores in the loop. 

Easy Street Records’ West Seattle store is having a Pearl Jam “Backspacer Bash” and Midnight Sale from 9 pm Saturday night until 12:30 am. Classic live and rare Pearl Jam from 9  – 11 pm, then from 11 pm to midnight, we get to listen to Backspacer, which goes on sale at midnight!

Awesome, and they’re collecting food for the West Seattle Foodbank – 2 non-perishable food items for a free 2008 Pearl Jam Tote Bag, while supplies last.  Bring 5 and you get that and are entered to win prizes like “Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros. books / Live at Benaroya Hall vinyl / Eddie Vedder Live at Kenyon Hall poster and much, much more!”

Any chance the band will stop by?  I don’t know.  Saturday is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day. . . Anything could happen!

Eddie

Official Pearl Jam photo by Karen Loria.

One thing is for sure – I will see them Monday night. . .at Key Arena. . .Pearl Jam finally playing Seattle again! 

PearlJamManchester

Official Pearl Jam photo by Karen Loria

Pearl Jam is Finally Playing Seattle!

Oh, yes, in other news Thursday: Pearl Jam is playing Seattle on September 21 & 22 at Key Arena.  Yes!  I believe in miracles!

Eddie and the boys playing I Believe in Miracles by The Ramones in Santiago,Chile in 2005.

Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 are opening both shows. 

Their official Shimmer & Shine video:

Wow!  What a line-up!

So I’m going to try for the Ten Club pre-sale tickets Monday (It’s too late to join now, for this round!).  Will it be another miracle, or rats?

Pearl Jam plays Rats in Boston, 2006:

One thing is for sure, I won’t feel indifference!

Acoustic version of Pearl Jam’s Indifference by Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder at Madison Square Garden in 2000 (vintage, with a plug for Ralph Nader and some Bush bashing by Eddie):

More rock & roll coming soon!  I just survived my first mosh pit to see Mudhoney at the West Seattle Fest yesterday evening! It wasn’t intentional. . .

 

Got Some – New Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam has a new song they debuted on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, another second song they previously debuted at a secret filming session at The Showbox, and rumor has it that the album is coming out and they’ll be a two nights at Key Arena toward the end of September.

Wow!  You’d think their fans would be happy!  Well, I am!  Actually, probably most of their fans are.  Although, you wouldn’t believe how much one performance of one song can be dissected by their loyal fans, not the music critics!  Then there’s the other, mysterious song and all the circumstances around it. . .

First, the Tonight Show videos.  I’ll give you the links to their website, as, due to technical restrictions, I can’t post any video to my free Word Press blog other than YouTube videos (and, oh yes, NBC pulled the illegally posted ones on YouTube, something else fans griped about).

*6/14 Update: I found I can add NBC videos via Vodpod and added the video below as well!

Got Some is their new song, from the upcoming Backspacer album (which shares the name of the band’s turtle who won the Great Turtle Race):

Vodpod videos no longer available.
“Pearl Jam: Got Some Performance on The Tonight Show”, posted with vodpod

http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/video/clips/musical-performance-pearl-jam-060109/1116201

Oops!  Looks like they pulled the bonus song video of Rocking in the Free World from the Tonight Show site (played after the actual show finished recording).  Something new for fans to complain about.

I’ll say it again, having just watched Got Some a couple more times (and just discovering NBC’s full screen version more or less works on my antiquated computer) – Wow!  I love the song, the band sounds great, and is playing great together (a lot of dueling guitar riffs, too).  Lyrics?  I’m starting to make them out.  A valid complaint, but this is rock and roll.  This leads to interesting mis-heard lyrics like “four or five virgins and a pelican” . . .

Here are the lyrics for Got Some from the message board, with a few changes in parenthesis to as near as I could make out (which for all I know, may be as accurate as “four or five virgins and a pelican):

Edit (lyrics without repetitions):
Every night with the lights out
where you gone
What’s wrong?

Every time you can try
but can’t [say no]
[What’s wrong?]

I got some if you need it

Get it now, get it on, before its gone
Let’s everybody carry on
Carrying on
Turn it up, [turn] it off, before its gone
Let’s everybody carry on
Carrying on

This situation, which side are you on?
Are you on the rise, are you falling down?
Let me know…..c’mon let’s go yeah

I got some if you need it

This situation, what side are you on?
Are you dropping bombs, are you getting out?
Have you heard of diplomatic resolve? Yeah

Precipitation, which side are you on?
Are you drying up, are you a big drop?
Are you a part of [a pool] detrimental?

Got some
Carry on

Oooh, It’s political, which I think is great, but it’s another thing for the fans to argue about.  Yes, I think he is calling President Obama (and, I think, the Congressional Democrats) out on backing down and I think specifically, for still fighting in Iraq (and, in my opinion, Afghanistan, though I don’t want to project that on what Ed’s saying if I’m not sure).

Now, the amazing thing on the criticism on these lyrics on the message board, mostly from the right, but sometimes from the left, are the people who have this “you’re either for me or against me” Bush era nonsense mentality, and think because Eddie is criticizing Obama for backing down on certain issues that means he’s totally turned against him.  Apparently, they believe if you vote for someone for President, you’re then supposed to blindly follow them; instead of being an educated and engaged citizen in a participatory democracy.

I happen to think President Obama has done a lot of good already, and is turning around a lot of the bad, Bush era, policies.  I also think he’s the best we could get, even of the Democrats, at least, the best we could get who’s electable.  That being said, there are a number of areas where I have concerns, where Obama is carrying on with the same bad policies of the Bush and, in some cases, Clinton administrations (using some of their same economic advisors who helped bring us the current mess – see the Nation’s Reagan Didn’t Do It – and mind you, The Nation is a liberal magazine, who like me, would love to blame things on Reagan). 

In addition to the war in Iraq still going on and the expanding of the war in Afghanistan, Obama is backing down from accountability for the torture done under the Bush administration, hesitating on closing Guantanamo, keeping the military commissions, and worse, Alternet reports torture is still going on under the Obama administration under the guise of “forced extraction teams.” 

So, yes, Obama and the Democrats need to get some.  It’s kind of obvious what the some is, once you make out the lyrics; but to sanitize it I’ll say – guts, courage. . .

OK, enough politics.  There were plenty of other things for the message board and blogs to complain about and dissect, not that I really want to go into them all here.  I think one of my favorites, and the one that makes me go “Huh?”  is that Eddie looks old.  Actually he doesn’t look old at all.  He looks like a guy in his mid-forties who’s in pretty good shape. OK, he’s old if you still expect him to look like he did when the band started out 18 years ago. None of us look like we did 18 years ago.  Well, then again. . .more on Stone later.  My grey is creeping in though, so much for me. . .

Here’s Black from the Pinkpop festival in ‘92?

Stone’s hair was another thing that got a lot of comments.  He’s growing it out and got a little headbanger action from it.  One guy said he looked like a 20 year old playing with a bunch of 40 year old guys.  We’ll see if he grows it out to where it was in ‘92!

Here’s Stone with some serious hair action going at the Green River reunion (sorry I missed that one) from Pearl Jam’s official Flickr site (photo by Anna Knowlden):

Stone

 Awesome! 

Now, on that second song they debuted at their secret Showbox gig.  Surprisingly, the most controversial issue about their recording of the song The Fixer was not that it was recorded for Target, who has big-box store rights to the initial release of the Backspacer album (see the Rolling Stone article).  The issue that drew the most angst, and sadly, too many hard feelings on all sides of the issue, was that the band (or the band’s management) insisted websites including music blogs take down illegally made copies of The Fixer, which is their first single from the new album, and is due out in July.

There’s a real generation gap here. . .  First, full disclosure, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this whole melodrama if I wasn’t actually looking for sneak listen to the track myself. Hoping to catch it before it disappeared.  OK, so I’m no saint.  Here’s the generation gap though – I figured that, of course, the band’s going to take these down quickly.  Some of their younger fans were quite irate that they asked them to do it.

I think the situation has finally run it’s course, but it’s sad, because passion for music fueled the hard feelings on all sides (and you’d hope it’d bring them together).  I had already discovered I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, a music blog named after a Pearl Jam lyric long before all this happened.  It’s well written and a great place for new music.

It all started when Heather Browne, the author of the blog, posted a “stealth audio clip” of The Fixer.  Then Pearl Jam’s lawyers contacted her to have her take it down (and this is the third time this has happened with a Pearl Jam song, something that made her mad; and those of us of a previous generation go, huh?  She was told posting unauthorized recordings was wrong on two previous occasions and still kept doing it?).  So she announced she was breaking up with the band.  Several of her fans said they were breaking up with her, but more agreed with with her against Pearl Jam on this “censorship.”  Then Pearl Jam’s fan club, Ten Club, calls her, apologizing for the way they handled it, asking how to make amends, but not before (oops), referring to her writing as a “shitty blog”, then stating how important fans and sites like hers are to the band.

Some one needs a refresher course in customer service. Sadly, his response, no doubt was partly fueled by his love of Pearl Jam’s music (and probably only reading the one, uncharacteristic, ranting entry against the band). Heather did acknowledge at that point Pearl Jam did have the right to release their music as they see fit, and it isn’t censorship.  So it was over, except for 110 more comments to that post. . . 

You know, I stopped watching soap operas years ago, because they drive me crazy!

Meanwhile, back to something I whine about re the band (hey, I told you I was no saint. . .).  Rumor has it that Pearl Jam may actually be playing Seattle!!! Yes, there are rumors they’re going to be playing Key Arena toward the end of September, right as the album is coming out.

Of course, you’d think living in Seattle, they’d play here all the time (and some of their side bands do, though not Ed solo).  No, the Gorge (Amplitheatre, halfway across the state), is not Seattle, at least for those of us without a car. 

Not that I don’t wish I had a car so I could go see them when they play the Gorge (oops, there goes my carbon neutral sainthood, aided by poverty).  It is a beautiful setting, and it’d be awesome to see Pearl Jam there.

Their opener from their first of two nights at the Gorge in 2006:

Maybe it’s time for some bio-fueled concert buses to the Gorge from Seattle and Spokane?

Closing of the same show (which is available in it’s entirety on their “Life at the Gorge” box set).  Got to love Mike’s closing on Yellow Ledbetter and the Hendrix set!  

These shows at the Gorge are epic.  I’d like to see one some day.  Still, hoping for Key Arena.  Yeah, it’s kind of sterile; but I can get there and back by bus. . .

I’m hoping the rumors are right.  Wow!  Pearl Jam might actually play Seattle!

Mike’s other band!

Told you it’s been awhile. . .