Dakota Duvall’s 2022 St. Louis Pearl Jam Fan Report
Dakota’s Run Closes Out In St. Louis
11 months. 2 countries. 5 states. 7 shows.
My run of shows had to come to an end at some point, and it was fitting that the last show would be my first in 11 that I got to go home and sleep in my own bed after. It was also the only show on this tour that my dad, who passed away in January from COVID at 49, was supposed to go to. This would’ve been show number 20 for him.
My dad had seen some pretty damn good shows. Every St. Louis show, PJ20, a Philly 2013 show, 3 Wrigley’s, amongst others.
In my 4 shows after he passed, leading up to this one, something hit me at each show and I cried. In Paris, Wishlist/Waiting On A Friend did it. New York had Release. Nashville had Nothingman. Louisville had Off He Goes. I knew that would carry over to this one, and I was honestly worried about having too many that would get to me.
We also had around 12 people at this show that we knew, family members and friends that had never seen them before, or it was their first show in years. My wife’s mom and aunt were there for their first show since St. Louis in 2014. They have been seeing them in St. Louis since Corduroy’s debut at the Fox Theater in 1994. A friend from my old job was there who’s in double digits of shows, seeing them at the Home Shows in Seattle, OKC, and even a South American show. Also, a work friend of my wife’s who is a big fan and hadn’t seen them since 2010 that we were able to get tickets for about 10 days before the show that he still thanks us for. Lastly, my younger brother and my uncle stepped in for my dad and my mom. My mom couldn’t bring herself to go, she couldn’t go without my dad. My brother and uncle made it to their first Pearl Jam show that night. Yes, this was our 5th show this year, but we were so much more excited for all of them than ourselves.
We were row 3 in section B on the floor. Dead middle of the stage and when Cat Power came on the speakers and the lights went down, just like every other show, BOOM, I got nervous and excited.
The band started off with Of The Girl and I was excited as I finally got to check that one off the list, and it sounded great. Of The Girl opening just gets you amped for what’s going to come as you know it’s going to be a very unique set.
The next song was on almost all of our wish setlists. Especially my wife and her aunt.
As soon as that guitar riff filled Enterprise I thought, “Shit. This is going to get me.” At that moment I flashed back to being a kid in my room, while this song frequented my dad’s stereo speakers in the living room, quietly whisper-shouting this song at the top of my lungs.
Now, in the last few years before he passed, my parents and I had a rocky relationship — to put it nicely. We didn’t speak much, went our own ways after I graduated college and it was mostly a decision made by me. Lyrics from this song resonated with me since that day we parted ways, but especially since he passed. I knew they would make me cry. Singing them out loud, 20,000+ people with me in St. Louis, where he should’ve been, I knew that would do it.
“I did what I had to do, and if there was a reason, there wasn’t no reason, no.
If there’s something you’d like to do, just let me continue to blame you.
Footsteps in the hall, it was you.
Pictures on my chest, it was you…”
Somehow, it didn’t make me cry. I held up. Shouted those words out and got through it. I thought if I could get through that one, I’ll make it through all of them. Oddly enough, I listened to this bootleg while writing this, and Footsteps hit me like I thought it would that night. HARD.
A ukulele Sleeping By Myself came after and Retrograde followed. Our first time in 7 shows of the Gigaton era to get Retrograde and it was phenomenal. Just that one live version made it surpass Seven O’Clock as my favorite live song I’ve heard off the record. Just a powerful build throughout and a thundering ending.
After Retrograde, they pulled the stools and we got going. A rocking version of Last Exit kicked it off and a sneaky favorite of mine, that got scratched in Paris, Life Wasted followed. Mike had a wicked solo laying on his amp to close out the song.
Following that was another song that instantly flashes me back, just like Footsteps. As soon as Mike strums the high riff, I go back to a kid again, in my room or in my car, waiting for the bridge of the song to end to scream:
“She gave him away, when she couldn’t hold. No, she folded, a dissident is here.”
There is no hiding this song is one of my favorites. I love everything about this song and it always sends me back. It was a song that I know he never knew I was in my room acting like I was Eddie in ‘93 singing it, but I like to think if he did know he would’ve been proud of how much that music hit me at such a young age.
The song that gets better every time they play it came after that in Who Ever Said. We got it 6 out of our 7 Gigaton shows and this one was by far my favorite. Each show it gets tighter, more aggressive, and the build up when the song kicks back in gets bigger each show.
Powerful versions of I Am Mine and Corduroy kept the energy going after Who Ever Said. A song that was on my wishlist for these shows came next with Glorified G. Another song I can’t get enough of, and absolutely loved being able to finally check it off the list.
Once, Even Flow, and Small Town was a perfect trio to keep the crowd at full tilt. Quite possibly one of the greatest performances of Sad came next. An absolute head-banging version that sounded phenomenal. The energy the band had with it just filled the arena and almost made me wish it was a staple in the setlist, but that’s the beauty of it.
My two-year-old daughter’s favorite song, Dance of the Clairvoyants, came next. Then, the song that turned a co-worker that was very anti-Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, besides Matt Cameron, into a fan closed out the first set in Go. He had me choose one song from every studio album that would help him possibly give the band a chance and the first time he heard Go he kept replaying it over and over and ended up listening to more than just the one song per album. He told me, “you converted me.”
An absolute perfect encore ensued with State of Love and Trust, Breath, Black, and Alive. Four songs to just take every ounce of voice you have left to yell out the words. Black started and I thought it would get to me and I would shed a few tears, but I didn’t. Alive began and I really thought of my dad a lot, thinking he should be there to sing along with all of us that he’s still alive. As Alive was finishing up I was just thinking, this might be the end of the show. I made it. I made it through with no tears. Quite honestly I was surprised. The guys went to the center of the stage, Ed introduced everyone one last time and I took it all in as that was it, the end to our 2022 run of shows. As I waited for the final bow, they all went back, grabbed their instruments and gave us one more.
Now we all know, there is one song that 100% solidifies the end of the night. The last moment before we part our ways. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the same song I’ve played to close out some important chapters in my life. When my wife and I graduated college and drove away from campus the last time, I played it. When I drove away from my last apartment for the last time as we headed to our home we just purchased with a not even 48-hour-old baby girl, I played it. It was also on my dad’s visitation playlist as one of the final goodbye songs.
As Mike hit one of the most beautiful guitar riffs in history, it hit me. The person who introduced me to this band, the band that has changed my life, the person that would’ve thought this run of shows for us was so fucking cool, the person who waited two years and should’ve been there that night to experience all of that, wasn’t there. In that moment, there was nothing more that I wanted, than to be able to turn around and see him singing along to that song. I turned around and saw my brother and my uncle up in the section behind us just smiling as they played and it made me smile, with tears going down my face, knowing he would’ve been proud to see all of us there having a great time. There was no other song that could’ve ended this show for me. This run of shows, the amount of time we had to wait, and the emotional attachment to them.
One of the best parts about the night was after we walked out, we met up with my brother and uncle for a few minutes and my brother looked like he had a really good time and my uncle couldn’t stop talking about how good they sound and how hard they can still play and how they sound better live than they do on the radio.
Now I sit here, 11 shows in, and I wonder if I will get the chance to catch my dad’s 19 shows. If I do, do I go ahead and do it? Or do I stop at 18 and let him have that over me? Do I do 19 and tie him? Or do I do what I think he would want and keep going until I or the band can’t do any more? That’s a question only I’ll be able to answer and decide for myself if or hopefully when that time comes.
Paris. NYC. Nashville. Louisville. St. Louis.
I love this band.