Pearl Jam – Not For You

Two songs on this exciting single, one is “Not For You” from the vaunted album “Vs.” and other is “Out Of My Mind” which is says right on the tin in “Live Improv Atlanta GA, April 2 1994” so right there, you know you’re getting some real value.

“Out Of My Mind” is a nifty but completely unnecessary jazzy thing featuring the band working together remarkably well if it is indeed an improv, but either way, does it really matter? It’s neat but doesn’t do all that much to enhance the experience of listening to music.

Instead, let me tell the story of the time I saw Pearl Jam live. It was Toronto, obviously, back in my first year of university, so I guess it was 2003. Or maybe early 2004. No, it was January, just after my birthday, so it was 2004. This was one of the last months of normalcy for me, so the whole thing holds some sentimental value for me.

It was near the end of my classic rock phase, and I’d been pretty seriously into drinking straight liquor at the time. That time my drink was Schnapps. I know it sounds girly, but fuck, that stuff was palatable to the 18 year-old palate, and enough of it and you’d be properly fucked up. You’d have a killer hangover, but it got shit done.

So I went to Toronto with my sorta-roommate and two other suitmates – an Australian girl named Jamie who was older than us and a socially awkward kid named Ian who had a stupid ponytail – and I proceeded to drink a 40 of Schnapps to myself. Well, I shared shots, but that meant I also shared their shots, which meant I got more fucked up than otherwise expected, since Schnapps is only 21% and their stuff was 40%. So I go this show at the Molson Amphitheatre – a concert hall on steroids if you don’t know – and it was through grace of God that we get in at all. But it must’ve been something in our eyes that security just had to let go even though we were plastered like a damaged wall, or maybe we were better actors than I remember, or maybe I just wanna pretend nobody could tell and they didn’t actually care, and we were in.

The first task was getting close to the stage. It was then that I learned a classic trick of concert-going: when moving forward, follow the sick children. For preamble, the exit was to our left from the stage. I don’t know who brings their kid to a Pearl Jam show, but this guy in front of us had a kid that started vomiting violently, and had to move. So I had a flash of inspiration, and in one of the great moments of my life, I start yelling “Sick child! Sick child!” The guy moved ahead, and the crowd parts like the mighty Red Sea. So we get to the front, and I’m feeling pretty great. The band starts, and my friends, I can feel their pride, are mine like friends can rarely belong to a fellow friend. For this one night I have attained demigod status; for me right now they’d all go vegetarian or sing for my amusement, or whatever. And this is me at eighteen speaking, this sort of feeling makes me giddy nine years later. For then, this was like scaling Kilimanjaro without oxygen on video.

Then the show. The show was great as well. I don’t need to go into detail, because this was Pearl Jam, and I loved Pearl Jam, so I loved the show. I’m pretty sure they were more than adequate performers as well. So the last encore ends, and I’m both drunk and on a major high from my accomplishment. I’m pretty sure that roommate and Jamie are going to hook up, and I need my fix for the evening, so after the last encore (“Indifference”) I leap onstage and hug first the guitarist, Stone Gossard, then Eddie Vedder himself. I remember his back being wonderfully, impossibly sweaty. And he hugs me back, and it’s this wonderful moment of teenaged actuality. Then reality hits: security want me off the fucking stage. Heck, Eddie Vedder does too, but he’s too nice to say so. One of my feet was too close to the stage’s edge – I’ve blocked out what the crowd were doing but I bet it wasn’t positive. The guard grabs me from below and sinks his hand into my ankle, and I go down to one knee, and fuck it hurts. So I do the only thing I can: I grab onto Eddie Vedder. So I’m drunk as I’ve ever been, holding onto Eddie Vedder’s belt and impossibly sweaty shirt. Eddie’s trying to be sympathetic to a fan but he clearly wants to get away, and the combination of the two makes him freeze as I hold on. Meanwhile, the security guard is calling for help, and he’s swearing at me and grabbing at my ankle and pulling on my leg. Just like I’m pulling yours.

4 / 10


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