Forever Faithfull: Memories From The Road featuring Tanya Kang
Tanya Kang Retraces Pearl Jam Memories From The Road
Forever Faithfull is a series derived from daily Facebook posts on the Pearl Jam Podcast Community group. These tour stories were shared by Tanya Kang. Read all about her travels that include stories from outside the country, traveling spontaneously on a whim and for her milestone 100th show.
10/3/2004 – Breakerfall – Grand Rapids, MI
It was a really tough choice but I decided to start with this show. Specifically the song Breakerfall. This was my 21st Pearl Jam show. I had been following the band on tour for the Vote for Change tour. I did the first two Boston shows which were technically pre-VFC tour, but then went onto Reading, PA and Toledo, OH, which was the night before Grand Rapids. Now the Toledo show was epic with Neil Young showing up (I literally cried when they went into Cortez the Killer). But I wanted to focus on Pearl Jam, not Neil Young.
There was something about this tour that I loved. The angst from the political situation in the country at that time fueled the shows and the energy was incredible. Yeah the sets may have been shorter with two other bands on the bill each night but it didn’t take away from their set at all. There’s also something about non-album tours that I love. It feels like everything is up in the air and anything can happen (kind of why I’m looking forward to seeing the setlists in September). There’s even less predictability and I live for that.
I was in college at the time, my last semester, in my 20s, skipping classes to go to these shows (which didn’t phase me as I skipped my very first day of college to see PJ in 2000), and doing an internship at a congressman’s office. I was in the middle of the politics from that and it made me even more invested in the shows.
I love politically passionate Eddie. He has so much raw energy and often brings another element to the songs live. Thanks to my long time PJ touring friend and best friend in non-PJ world, we had second row center seats. I hadn’t been that close to the stage before. And the venue was small and the stage was small. When they started the night off with Breakerfall, it set the tone. It’s one of my favorite songs and I was beyond ecstatic. I mentioned energy – this song was on fire and got things going immediately. It was raw and they were like, “let’s go!” After having witnessed the craziness in Toledo the night before, it didn’t matter what was going to happen in Grand Rapids. Yet they brought it. I thought the sequence of songs was great and I used to listen to this bootleg a lot. Breakerfall, Last Exit, Save You, Do The Evolution, Even Flow to break for Light Years. Then into Sad. It was just overall a great setlist. I loved the covers too. Bleed For Me right into Blood – just amazing! An amazing version of Blood too. I thought the covers and choice of songs fit the angst and politically charged theme of the tour.
Someone threw the American flag on stage at one point and Eddie had it wrapped around him. It just spoke volumes. They love this country. We love this country. I look back at this show and it makes me think about my 22 year old innocent self who thought I could change the world. Or at least be a part of the change.
10/27/2009 – Mankind – Phildelphia, PA
I live in Delaware, about 1 hour south of Philly, so Philly is my “home” city for shows. I’ve been to almost every Pearl Jam show in Philly and Camden since 2000. So there was no way I was going to miss these shows. Out of the four shows, night one was my favorite (all nights were amazing though!). I didn’t score tickets for the first night with my ten club number, but one of my best PJ touring friends did and she said I could have her extra ticket.
I was in grad school at the time, it was my first semester and I was knee deep in my coursework. Grad school was really hard. All my classes were evening classes. While in undergrad I skipped classes to travel to see PJ, I was reluctant to do that in grad school. Well as luck would have it, the power went out in the building so class was canceled! I drove up to Philly right away and met my friend at the box office, it was like 7:10pm. This was before they brought GA back so the floor was all seated and they were doing random lottery winners for the first two rows and the 9th and 10th rows.
We pick up our tickets and couldn’t determine where our seats were. We head in and the ushers/security kept pointing down to the floor, we make our way down, and what do you know, we had front row seats!!!! First time ever getting front row. Stone’s side. I was beyond ecstatic.
The setlist was incredible and a dream. So many staples not played because they were saving them for the other three shows. For example, no Even Flow, Alive or Porch. Instead, we got gems like Rival and Ghost. I was going nuts the entire night. Dancing, rocking out non stop. When they went into State of Love and Trust during the first encore, I vividly remember just losing my shit. I love that song, and I’m not sure what exactly happened but something just hit me that night when they went into it. All the feels. That song is emotional for me. During the night Ed looked over at us a few times. At first I thought I was imagining it. Then I accepted he really had. I mean I was going completely nuts so I’m sure it wasn’t hard to notice.
After SOLAT, another huge surprise – Mankind! And to get Mankind while on Stone’s side?! I love this song too and what a treat. Stone was my first favorite. My rocking out continued of course. During this song Ed stood back near Matt’s drum kit when he was playing the tambourine parts. And he looked our way again while playing the tambourine. The song ended. The stage went dark, and next thing I know Ed is standing at the edge of the stage right in front of me, holding out the tambourine to give to me. To say I was in shock is an understatement. This was before I had met any of the band members or anything. I just could not believe it! He was smiling and patiently waiting for me to take the tambourine from him but I literally froze. My friend had to nudge my arm and finally I took the tambourine. I was in such shock that the next song was a complete blur. I didn’t even remember them playing it until I saw the setlist later that night. The song being The Fixer. So for something magical to happen during a song I love was just awesome. I remember getting home that night (I was living at my parents during grad school) and my Mom was still up and happy for me. She asked why I didn’t get Ed to sign it.
Before this tour I was also feeling a bit jaded with Pearl Jam. Nothing negative on them, but there had been ups and downs over the few years leading up the those fall 2009 shows. I wasn’t feeling it on the 2008 US summer tour and just was in a phase where I wasn’t listening to them as much. Well after that first Spectrum show, I was back! And ever since then, I always say this band surprises you when you least expect it and always manages to find a way to pull you back in. Simply the best.
One of YouTube video clips is crappy, there are better videos of the show from that night but I included this one because at the end of Mankind, you see Ed walking by Stone, tapping the tambo on Stone’s head right before he comes over to me which cracks me up.
11/28/2015 – Daughter/Está Bien – Mexico City, MX
When Pearl Jam announced they were playing in Mexico City the same weekend as the USA Thanksgiving holiday, I was in! I had no Thanksgiving plan,s so this was going to be my plans and I was thrilled. I used to travel internationally a lot and had never been to Mexico City, so I was looking forward to a weekend of traveling and seeing Pearl Jam.
Mexico City was a really cool city and I’m so glad I got to visit. As for the concert, well I’ve always heard about the crowds in Central and South America and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. My friends and I had seats, and though we were far from the stage, it was a great way to take in everything. We had such a great time. I thought it was a really solid setlist that included some of my favorites, such as Breakerfall and You Are.
The highlight of course for me was Daughter and the It’s OK tag. Since they first started doing the It’s OK tag on the 2000 tour, every time I hear Daughter at a show, I cross my fingers and hold my breath and hope for it. I literally get chills and tear up every single time I hear it. It’s just so powerful. The hope. Everyone needs to hear it’s going to be okay.
Since the show was in Mexico, they did the Spanish version! It’s OK/Está Bien. I was hoping for this and it was so wonderful. The crowd was amazing and really into it. It was an awesome experience that I’ll never forget.
Everyone I met was incredibly nice. I took Pearl Jam Fan Portraits that weekend and it was so great to capture some of the Mexican fan base (many who are in the book too!) and I loved talking to them. Traveling to see Pearl Jam is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. The music, the people, the places. It’s filled my cup.
4/13/2016 – Of The Earth – Jacksonville, FL
We all have that song we’re chasing. For me it was Of The Earth. I immediately loved this song the first time I heard it. I thought it would maybe show up on an album one day, and when I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I became more determined to hear it live. I missed it by one show in 2014. I had no idea if they would play it on the 2016 tour.
How do I even start to describe what the trip down to Jacksonville, FL and back in less than 36 hours meant to me. Sometimes everything lines up perfectly and the last minute decisions turn out to be the best. The 2016 tour was a crazy and hectic one for me. As most of you know I do the Fan Portraits, and by that tour I was trying to do as many shows as possible, which ended up being 18 shows (would have been 19 but Raleigh was canceled). I love doing the tour opener so my friends and I flew down to Florida.
This was my first time seeing the band in Florida. I initially was only going to do Fort Lauderdale and Miami which were Friday and Saturday shows. I had a great time at these two shows and was sad to fly back to the Philly airport on Sunday. As soon as I arrived, I went to see Ben Harper who was playing Philly that night. The distraction helped. The next night, Monday April 11, Pearl Jam was playing in Tampa. I was in Philly seeing the band The Kills and while they were really good, I was the annoying concert attendee (but at least standing way at the back) on my phone the whole time watching the Tampa show setlist come in. The FOMO was killing me.
So then the next day, Tuesday April 12, I decide to use my frequent flyer miles and head down to Jacksonville for the next and last show in Florida. I just had this gut feeling that I had to be there. All I traveled with was a backpack and a travel size sleeping bag. I get off the plane and head straight to the venue and get in the GA line without a GA ticket. This was around 11pm. Weather was warm so I slept some on the sidewalk. Woke up the next morning and figured/hoped I would find a ticket. And I did! Thanks to our awesome community.
We head in and I get rail on Mike’s side. At this point I was just super happy to be there, that everything worked out that I could be there and even got a GA ticket. Well, the night and setlist went way beyond any expectations I may have had. Songs that really stood out early on were Army Reserve and Rival. Brilliant songs that do not get played enough. During Mike’s solo in Even Flow, he came down right in front of me and my friends while playing his solo and rocking out. I was smiling so big my face was hurting.
While I’m trying to recover from the epicness that literally just happened, Ed introduces Of The Earth. I said to myself, oh my fucking god, is this really happening? I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to hear this song live! Why they chose to play it that night, I have no idea. There’s this sense of urgency in the song, it’s got a unique intensity to it, and the jam is killer. Mike FTW, again. Funny thing is I even made a sign for this song but I never even held it up. I didn’t have to, they knew.
While that was my favorite part of the night for obvious reasons, the whole night rocked! Hearing Ghost was great too. Adding this show on last minute, I had no expectations, and I can’t believe how much of a beautiful, magical, mind-blowing night it turned into, surrounded by old and new friends.
The next morning I flew home at 6am and went straight to work (I clearly didn’t sleep that tour) Always go to the show! It was totally worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Now the song I’m chasing is Other Side.
8/10/2018 – Brain Of J. – Safeco Field
The reason I picked this show for my last one is because I felt so incredibly lucky to get to hear my all time favorite Pearl Jam song at my 100th show: Brain of J. When I bought Yield, I clearly remember hitting play and hearing Brain of J for the first time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The explosion sound at the end of the song is what my brain felt like! Even though I had seen Pearl Jam in 1995, it was the Yield album that changed everything for me. Just as the song goes, “the whole world will be different soon,” I knew my life was changed forever and I instantly became a die hard fan for life. According to my LiveFootsteps stats, I’ve heard the song live 15 times. But they don’t play it nearly as much as they used to, so when they do bust it out it’s always a special treat.
I knew my 100th show was approaching and I already thought it was awesome that it was going to be in Seattle. I love Seattle for the many reasons PJ fans do and more. I lived there for a little while in 2011, and the city will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been back several times. I had a GA ticket for the show which was at the huge Safeco Field. I got into the venue around 4 or 5pm and my friends were “Mike’s side” but waaaaaaay far left in front of the huge screen, not in front of the stage really at that point. They said to come join them, it was not crowded at all. I was exhausted from doing Fan Portraits the two days before and was just looking forward to having a fun show with friends and didn’t have any expectations whatsoever. My friends were excited for me that it was my 100th show and said I should make a sign. I was like nah it’s okay, I didn’t come prepared and don’t have anything to make a sign with. Well they kept encouraging it. As it was nearing show start time, I gave it some thought. I went to the merch stand and they gave me a brown paper bag (yay no plastic bag law) and the security guard by where we were in the pit gave me a pen.
The show opens with Oceans, so I already knew we were in for a good night. Fifth song in and they play Brain of J. I’M DONE. I literally told my friend they could play anything else rest of the night. I was ecstatic. I was beyond content. My night was already made. Well, the rest of the night was awesome. Rats. In Hiding. Daughter with It’s OK. All or None. Crown of Thorns. Leash. Sonic Reducer. So many of my favorites! I held my sign up only when the band came back out for the encores. I didn’t want to block anyone’s view and I knew I was too far away. Ed did make his way over to our section during Alive. I put my sign up and hoped for the best. He pointed to my sign and was like Wow and said “Really?” I said yes and he said no shit?! He paused and pulled out a guitar pick and told the security guard to give it to me. I put my sign down. Okay night more than made!
Then during the next song Baba O’Riley, he came over and gave me the tambourine! I couldn’t believe that he remembered to come back to give me the tambo. I’m grinning and smiling big. I’ll say it over and over, my heart was full. This band. They surprise me every single fucking time when I lease expect it.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed my stories this week. And hope to see some of you in September!
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