Monday, June 23, 2008

Pearl Jam @ Verizon Center, DC [6/21/08]

Believe it or not, but I'd never seen Pearl Jam live before tonight.

I had a ticket to see them opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins in Cincinnati in 1992 but had to skip it because of a family commitment. Then I had a spot in the front of the line to buy tickets to see them in Ann Arbor in 1994, but had to bail out on the line with less than 30 minutes to go because I needed to catch a ride out of town. Then, for some reason I can't recall, I turned down a chance to see them on Randall's Island in NYC in 1996. And that's about when I just gave up on the idea of ever seeing them.

So, what did I think after waiting 17 years?

They were good. Not great, but good.

The show had its moments ("Given to Fly", "Last Kiss", "Corduroy"), but overall there just wasn't a whole lot that was particularly compelling to me. Maybe it just comes down to the fact that, to my ears at least, aside from a handful of excellent songs, the majority of the songs the band has written throughout its career just aren't anything special. They're not bad, by any means, but I don't think there's ever once been a time that I've thought to myself, "You know, I'm really in the mood to hear Binaural." Or Riot Act. Or even Vs., which has always been my least favorite PJ album.

All that said, if I have a chance to see them again - without paying $80 - I'd definitely take it. They bring a ton of energy to their show and, after nearly 20 years together, look like they still love what they're doing. And it's pretty cool to see Mike McCready, at 42 years of age, doing big scissor kicks while playing guitar.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists played a solid opening set, including 5 (or 6?) new songs, and a killer cover of The Saints' "(I'm) Stranded." Can't say they're really suited to an arena, but I'll take whatever Ted I can get.

Oh, and no pics from the show (other than a couple crappy phone camera pictures) because I took the "no cameras" on the ticket literally. However, it apparently only meant "no professional camera equipment." Now I know.

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