Spokane (spo-can) is the second most-populous city in the State of Washington, 300 miles east and 30 years behind Seattle. Second cities are often proud of their status as second, sometimes without realizing their own insignificance -- like Fairbanks or Casper or Las Cruces. Spokane has remnants of a gilded past, hard working roots, and a nice piece of geography, but it has suffered through the American decline and loss of parenting skills like many other second cities. But Spokane will survive and it has not lost aspiration -- its second city role models are more like Buffalo or Dallas or Pittsburgh. You know -- places with enough verve to attract a Pearl Jam show.
Washington State's largest musical phenomenon Pearl Jam made the 300 mile trek to Spokane for only the second time in twenty years. June 17, 1993 Pearl Jam played a surprise free, fifteen song tour warm up show at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, and all 700 of those people were among the 12,000 last night at the Spokane Arena. The Spokane Arena was overwhelmed beyond Level F -- long lines, packed concourses, and every inch of space occupied. Next time one of the planet's biggest acts comes to town, the Arena should consider extra staff, or maybe just raising the prices. (You could park and have a beer for under $10.) We were in the stands, pin high, Mike side in a bewildered crowd of locals.
Seattle's Mudhoney opened the show while the PJ's waited in vain at the bars and concession stands. Pearl Jam took the stage to prolonged, sincere applause -- the type Portland was too cool to muster.
Pendulum: In the first cities, people know this will be the opener. In Spokane, Elderly Woman fans feel robbed.
Release: One of the 6000footdrop.com pre-function guests predicts this as the second song. At least 10,000 are on their feet swaying and another 2,000 are wondering when Bon Jovi comes on.
Sirens: Beautiful and unfinished. This is a legitimate hit and a potential band-defining song. You know, like Time Turns Elastic.
Corduroy: "I dont wanna take what you can give..." The band seems more open to communal sharing now than when Vitalogy was released.
Once: Grungy fairy tale. Sound quality in the Arena rivals the old Boone Street Barn.
Mr. Vedder says hello to Spokane mis-remembering the 1993 visit and not apologizing for not carrying Spokane along in Pearl Jam's 23 year wake. He makes an awkward anti-Portland joke that no one gets, but then redeems himself thanking Montana native Jeff Ament for reminding the band of Spokane's existence. Mr. Vedder concludes the banter pulling out the nebuchadnezzar and playing sommelier to the mosh pit.
Lightning Bolt: The Grateful Dead fans in the audience are trolling uspto.gov for the dead's similar lightning bolt logo and claiming likelihood of confusion.
Mind Your Manners: Like your grandmother telling you to modulate -- five minutes of chaos with one minute of soft peace in the middle.
Faithfull: These are real Pearl Jam fans with radios and CD's and tape decks in their cars.
Tremor Christ: Is Mr. Vedder more jesus-like than Bono?
Getaway: With a pre-punk groovy garage party sound.
Mr. Vedder gives a shoutout to the Spokanarchy documentary about Spokane's early punk scene without recognizing that he could have been in the movie if only they had made it over to the 509 more often back in the day.
Present Tense: The best dancer in our section calls this one.
Mr. Vedder teases band founder Seattle native Stone Gossard who promises to sing.
Daughter: The band is having a blast as is most of the audience. Some of those with terrific "obstructed view" seats stay in their chairs to get what they paid for.
Mr. Vedder acknowledges a "Jeremy Spokane" sign and the long hair wook claiming he will cut his hair if the request is played.
After Hours: Mr. Vedder tries again on the Lou Reed song he sang just the night before. Maybe he should try Oh Sweet Nothing.
Let The Records Play: Not sure who manages Pearl Jam, but this is right out of the Coran Capshaw cross-media marketing playbook.
Jeremy: Bedreadlocked wook gets his call.
Do The Evolution: Loud and fun. The audience loves the tomahawk chop part.
Porch: Complex. Mr. Vedder reflects light back up to heaven.
During the first set, t-shirts are thrown at Mr. Vedder, one hitting him, but he took it in stride, opening the shirts and then setting them on the drum riser. But at the end of the first set, he is hit in the arm with a small projectile and he looks (rightfully) angry. At the opening of of the second set, however, we find out the projectile is a nicely wrapped, pencil length, greeting-inscribed doobie. Mr. Vedder deciphers the scrimshaw and thanks the fans for tossing it up, while other doobies and paraphernalia are lofted to the stage. "We can talk about it now, it's legal" he reminds the crowd, quite aware which state they are in.
Mr. Vedder introduces celebrity fan Steve Gleason by mentioning the fans might remember him from the New Orleans Saints. The fans remind Mr. Vedder they remember Steve from Washington State University barking out that school's chant and Mr. Gleason's name. Goosebumps are raised at Mr. Vedder's tribute to Steve, who is all smiles.
Footsteps: The B-side to Jeremy. The wook haircut is on for certain.
Severed Hand: Nicer than it sounds like it will be "...lookout below..."
Don’t Gimme No Lip: Stone Gossard gets his overdue turn at the microphone on this fun number. What did your father say to you when you resisted cutting your hair?
Bedreadlocked wook somehow has made it to the stage exerting more energy than we have ever seen a bedreadlocked wook exert. The crew brings out a mat and chair and an electric razor hinting the wook might be a plant.
Black: Beautiful tune unfinished without the "we belong together..." falsetto. But the people in the audience who belong together are aware of it.
Mr. Vedder tries some local politics, criticizing the three republican Spokane County Commissioners for un-identified sins, while ignoring its naive and laughable GOP congresswoman Shutdown Cathy.
Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love: Finally, the fellow next to me has something to sing along to.
Terrific fun show. Thank you Pearl Jam for remembering Washington's second city. See you in Seattle!