Pearl Jam Fan Report From the Road: San Diego 2022
Brooke Krause Shares her Experience on the Rail at Viejas Arena on May 3, 2022
You should know that I am a new Pearl Jam fan. While I had casually listened to their radio hits over the past 30 years, I didn’t consider myself a “fan.” That is, until the credits started rolling during the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. Present Tense began playing and I became a bonafide Pearl Jam fan. I’m about 30 years late to the party, but I’m doing my best to make up for lost time.
A few months later, I traveled from Kansas to California to see my first Pearl Jam shows at Ohana Encore. Seven months after Ohana Encore, I was on the rail in San Diego having an out-of-body experience while Eddie sang Footsteps. Discovering Pearl Jam in my 40’s has been a meaningful and expensive journey.
Before I share about the actual concert, allow me to share about my experience while waiting in line for almost 24 hours with fellow Pearl Jam fans.
I went to San Diego alone and met up with a friend I had met at Ohana Encore. We had GA tickets, and I didn’t know what to expect, other than it being a loooong wait on the San Diego State University sidewalk. We made friends with the fans around us and I listened in amazement as people casually rattled off how many shows they had attended. 33, 18, 89 shows! I tried to play it cool, but being a newbie, I was seriously amazed at the commitment of this fan base.
The morning of the concert, we talked over our merch strategy. Who was going to leave the line to grab a spot in the merch line, who was going to go brush their teeth, who was staying, etc. I was planning on staying in line and passing my merch order onto someone. But, around the time the merch line opened, I was on the phone with someone back home dealing with a family emergency. I didn’t get to tell anyone what merch I wanted. Of course I was bummed, but I was more overwhelmed with what was happening back home.
A few hours later, my new friends who had gone to the merch line came back and they handed me a poster tube and some other items. I was so touched that they did this on their own initiative. It might sound like a small gesture, but it was very meaningful to me and furthered my belief that Pearl Jam people really are the best kind of people.
Once we went inside of the venue, I grabbed my spot on the rail right between Eddie and Mike. Perfect!
The night began with Eddie warming up the audience with an acoustic version of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me in Your Heart. Josh Klinghoffer then gave us an endearingly imperfect solo set of originals and covers. I think it might be impossible to not like Josh Klinghoffer, I hope he continues to be a part of the touring band for a long, long time.
Of course, the audience went crazy the moment Eddie, Stone, Mike, Matt, Jeff and Boom joined Josh on stage. I hadn’t been to an arena concert in far too long, the energy was incredible!
They opened with Oceans, which was a clue as to where the night was heading, a set list heavily influenced by the San Diego beach and ocean where Eddie grew up surfing. Oceans was followed by several songs from Gigaton intertwined between hits like Corduroy, Even Flow, and Daughter. Who Ever Said and Superblood Wolfmoon were personal highlights from Gigaton. As is the case for most of their albums, the Gigaton songs just hit different live. I loved them all.
One of the most meaningful moments from the show was when Eddie shared about his brother Chris, who had died in a climbing accident a few years ago. One of the last times they saw each other was when Pearl Jam was playing in that very arena and his brother was in the rafters working lights. Eddie laughed as he recalled looking up several times during the show and seeing his brother flipping him off. Eddie then dedicated Long Road to Chris. It was a touching tribute.
Eddie talked a lot during the show. Pointing out friends and family in the audience, telling stories about growing up in San Diego. It was apparent that he was grateful to be there. In fact, If I had to sum up the entire show with one word, it would be gratefulness. There was an overarching feeling of gratefulness from the band and from the fans. After everything we have all gone through the past two years, we were all so grateful to be there together
I will wrap this up with my very favorite moment of the show. Earlier I mentioned that my face melted off when they played Footsteps. You see, as a newer fan, I had just discovered Footsteps a few days before the concert! I had been listening to it on repeat ever since and it was at the top of my wishlist. During the encore, Eddie walked out with his harmonica and the guy beside me, who knew I was hoping for Footsteps, patted me on the back and said “here it comes, I hope you are ready.”
Oh boy, I wasn’t ready. After Footsteps they proceeded to play the Mamasan Trilogy backwards. It was made extra special because if you know the history of the Mamasan Trilogy, you know that Eddie wrote Alive, Once and Footsteps after a day of surfing just minutes away from the arena. What an incredible moment for this Pearl Jam newbie! Thank you for reading and letting me share my story.