5 Unforgettable Moments of Pearl Jam in Sacramento, CA

By: Branden Palomo | May 24, 2022
Pearl Jam's Top Moments in Sacramento, CA

*Author’s Note: This write up was written prior to the cancellation of the remaining two shows on the first leg of the 2022 tour. It was intended to be published right when news was breaking of that cancellation. But rather than toss this in the digital scrap-bin of history, we’ve decided to present this to you as a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for your support, and a crossing of fingers for next time (plus I wrote it, so somebody’s gotta read it!). -bcp

Branden Palomo Highlights Some of the Band’s Top Moments in Sacramento, CA

In the 31-year career of Pearl Jam, they have only performed 4 times in Sacramento, the 9th largest capital in the United States. The capital of California, which has the 5th largest economy in the world (just behind the ENTIRE nation of Germany). The “Almond Capital of the World!” Just 4 times?

Nearly 22 years after their last jaunt to Sacto, Pearl Jam is returning for a much anticipated added date to their delayed Gigaton tour. And since some of us are going to be making new memories at this performance, let’s go back and relive some unforgettable moments, shall we?

February 16, 1991 – Cattle Club: Unforgettable…?

The only thing we know about this show is that it happened. At subsequent Sacramento concerts, Ed will mention that they opened for Alice in Chains at the Cattle Club, another tenuous piece of proof. But as of yet, there have been no setlists, photos, or bootlegs to materialize from this performance of the band in their nascency (barely 20 shows in!).

So, we know it happened, but don’t know what happened. And if no one has any memories from the show, then you can’t really forget anything from it. Tree falling in the forest, and all that. Right?

June 22, 1995 – Cal Expo Arena: Code Breakers

OJune 22, 1995 - Cal Expo Arena: Code Breakers

This date stands in the shadow of what came before: the infamous Red Rocks show. They even busted out the legendary “No Jeremy” for those of us that didn’t have the means to follow them from city-to-city, yet.

All of the tickets for this outdoor date were General Admission, and the floor was just dirt. Before the sun set, every fast song got the pit churning up a cloud of dust, and the miasma of youthful bravado was intimidating to those of us who chose to sit in the stands. Feeding into that energy, Pearl Jam took a chance that bands then and now rarely take, in playing two songs that had yet to be released on an album.

Fast and virtually unintelligible, Pearl Jam played Lukin for the 19th time before it would find its way onto the just-a-gleam-in-their-eye No Code, as well as Habit for the second time. It’s unpredictable moments like these that enchanted and enamored fans like me in the early days.

July 16, 1998 – Arco Arena: The “Jam” In Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam Top Moments in Sacramento, CA

Sacramento in the summer is a friend to no one (especially if you have curly hair like me). The heat was oppressive that night, evidenced by the band shedding layers throughout the show, and possibly the reason why so many sweat-drenched shirts were thrown on stage.

Ed was a little upset with the audience’s lack of awe for opening band X (although if he could have seen how the future version of Exene Cervenka turned out, he may have cut us some slack), and he called everyone out about it a couple times.

The band soldiered on, however, and were particularly in the groove with new drummer Matt Cameron, especially while jamming during songs. One of said jams followed after Eddie cooled off with a nice sip of wine from a shoe, and then played Habit with a nice extension at the end. Matt was really feeling his oats behind the drum kit, though, at the end of a rather cathartic Immortality.

October 30, 2000 – Sacramento Valley Amphitheater: Alright, Alright, Alright

October 30, 2000 - Sacramento Valley Amphitheater: Alright, Alright, Alright

Finally, a show where you didn’t have to worry about sweating through the brand new shirt you picked up at the merch booth! It was actually fairly chilly, and could be why Pearl Jam started out of the gate with 5 intense songs.

This show being added after the initial tour announcement (much like this 2022 tour), Sacramento is again overshadowed by both the 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas on the 22nd, and the Halloween hijinx to come in San Francisco (foreshadowed by the wigs and hats adorned by band members this night, possibly?).

As you sift through the silt, panning for the Golden State, you will find some shiny flakes in this show. Predictably, they nail stalwart setlist staples like Even Flow, Daughter (with a haunting lyrical improv), and Rearviewmirror. They also perform a full-band version of the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” that, while not rock solid, embodies some of the risks they tend to take while visiting this farthest north that they will play in the state.

May 18, 2022 – Golden 1 Arena: It Makes Much More Sense…

The merch tents were set up outside the venue. The people who had braved sleeping on the concrete overnight in order to stake claim in General Admission were bestowed wristbands to spare them the exposure of waiting several hours in the mid-90’s downtown Sacramento heat. The much sought after trinkets were still hiding away from prying eyes as 1PM approached, but then, the structures were brought down.

The announcement was made.

People were en route. Had just gotten off, or were about to get onto planes. Many had dispersed the grounds of the arena, but there were some that stayed. Wandering around, almost in shock. Disappointment, and disbelief were worn on the faces of those wondering: “What do we do now?”

The saying is, that “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” But with just lemons, all you’re going to get is lemon juice. That’s when you have to find water people, and sugar people – and the people we met sure were sweet (sorry)! Just talking and getting to know strangers. Making genuine, human connections. And while we may not have gotten any Pearl Jam out of the experience, what the band means to everyone that was there is what brought us together.

Branden Palomo

Host, Better Band Podcast & LO4L Contributor

Branden Palomo discovered Pearl Jam while in 7th grade, from a cassette of TEN his dad brought home one day. He adopted it as his own, and it became the first music that was actually his, and not his parents. From then, VS was the first CD purchased with his own money, and VITALOGY was the first vinyl record he would own (winning it from a radio call-in contest). A couple years after the music podcast he co-hosted ended when the other party moved to Texas, he decided to get back into the game in 2019 by creating the Pearl Jam track-by-track Better Band Podcast.

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