5 Unforgettable Moments of Pearl Jam in the Bay Area

By: John Hamilton | May 12, 2022
Pearl Jam Top Bay Area Moments

Some of the Band’s Top Moments in San Francisco, Mountain View, & Oakland, CA

As Pearl Jam will likely point out at some point during their shows on May 12 and 13 in Oakland, they have played the Bay Area a lot. They’ve likely played there more than they’ve played any other metro area outside of Seattle. This is mostly driven by the 21 times they’ve played at the Shoreline Amphitheater (which were mostly for the Bridge School concert series). They’ve played San Francisco proper and Oakland proper numerous times (11 times and 8 times respectively).

They clearly have an affinity for the area and the crowds that come to their shows in the Bay Area. This breeds a familiarity with the extensive live Pearl Jam catalog that some other places don’t quite achieve. Everyone is rewarded for this, as the crowd and band clearly play off the energy the other provides throughout the shows. The result is super high-energy and intense shows where the band feels comfortable and at home.

It’s hard to come up with the top moments from over 30 years and over 40 shows. That being said, in preparation for Oakland 2022, I’ve been listening to their main shows over the past twenty years (since the 2000 tour) to give us a sense for what we can expect at the upcoming Oakland shows.

Personally, I was in attendance at Bridge School 2001 (both days), Mountain View 2003, and Oakland 2013. While I wasn’t in attendance for their string of shows at Bill Graham in 2006, I’ve seen the Youtube videos of the complete shows a few times. In reviewing and reliving these shows from the past, some highlights clearly become apparent.

May 13, 1993 – Slim’s Cafe: Vs. Unleashed

May 13, 1993 - Slim’s Cafe: Vs. Unleashed

Slim’s is a pretty small venue in a grimy part of SF with a history of hosting punk bands. At the first show of 1993, six months prior to the release of Vs., the band was excited to get these songs out in public, as evidenced by opening with Animal and Go. Plenty of Vs. debuts here and even a couple that wouldn’t be released until Vitalogy, Better Man and Whipping. There’s even some for the hardcore fans: Dirty Frank, Hard To Imagine, and Alone.

October 20-21, 2001 – Shoreline Amphitheatre: All I Want Is The Truth

October 20-21, 2001 - Shoreline Amphitheatre: All I Want Is The Truth

There are so many great Bridge School moments that someone could easily do a post with the top ten highlights just from there. I loved the slow version they did of Corduroy at the 1996 show, it will forever remain my favorite version of Corduroy. But my favorite Bridge School moment has to come from the 2001 show. The intensity and energy at the show was felt by everyone there. 9/11 had happened less than two months prior to the show. The bands and crowd were wanting something there. Over the two days, we saw a bunch of live debuts, including an intense cover of John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth, and one of my favorite versions of I Am Mine. The two sets delivered what many of us had come there to see.

Bonus: as powerful as Pearl Jam’s set was, Billy Idol’s set is famous for the rousing rendition of Mony Mony with Billy and the crowd singing “get laid, get fucked” while the Bridge School kids watched. It was transformational, and Ed even mentions it in future Bridge School performances.

June 1, 2003 – Shoreline Amphitheatre: Something On Their Mind

June 1, 2003 - Shoreline Amphitheatre: Something On Their Mind

Early in the show, Ed toasts people at the protests. Grievance and Insignificance help bookend the main set, both aggressive and tight. An Encore 2 of Know Your Rights, Bu$hleaguer, and Fuckin’ Up tells you exactly how they were feeling on this night.

July 15-18, 2006 – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: Intense And Intimate

July 15-18, 2006 - Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: Intense And Intimate

The energy at the string of 2006 shows at Bill Graham, one of the smaller venues they played on that tour, was incredible. Night 1 was intense, opening with rarities Dead Man (in the pre-set) and Of the Girl, then amping up with Go, Save You, Severed Hand, Sad, Not For You, State, Gods’ Dice, Why Go, Comatose, and Evolution all in the main set!

The encore includes the reverse Mamasan Trilogy as well, something we’ve already seen on this tour. Encore 2 features Spin the Black Circle and one of the last performances of Bu$hleaguer to date. What a way to kick off the set of shows.

November 26, 2013 – Oracle Arena: One Massive Singalong

November 26, 2013 - Oracle Arena: One Massive Singalong

Oakland 2013 was a massive sing along, especially for a Tuesday night show (as Ed points out multiple times). You can hear the energy in the band throughout the show, starting with their second song, Nothingman, all the way through to Indifference. The crowd starts a singalong during Daughter and then joins Ed in a great W.M.A. tag. In Encore 2, Crazy Mary, Black, Alive, and Fuckin’ Up are one massive singalong.

John Hamilton

I began my Pearl Jam fandom circa 1991 in high school. I was searching for something and Pearl Jam provided what I needed. I became intensely interested in them, and learned about the band and their live experience through Five Horizons, though I was not able to see them live until after college on the 2000 tour. I have one tattoo, which is of the stick man, and I have been to over 30 live shows, almost all with my Pearl Jam buddy Mark.

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