Here in 2013, aka The Future, it’s easy to dismiss Pearl Jam as a relic of The Past. “Oh, isn’t that quaint? They’re the last-great-band-standing from the Grunge Era.” (Sorry, Soundgarden. You truly were away too long. And while you were sleeping, Pearl Jam cuffed your drummer. So now you can’t tour or cut records while they’re on the road.)
It’s true. The Seattle rockers had their heyday almost 20 years ago. And their lineup of two guitars, bass, drums & vox does have that rock n’ roll throwback feel. Hell, they’re even getting airplay on Boston’s classic rock station. That’s what happens when your band is old enough to drink.
Sure, in 2013 it’s more hip to sound like a band from the 90’s then to actually be a band from the 90’s. (Wassup, Speedy Ortiz? Didn’t I play you guys on my college radio show in 1996?) But there’s something to be said about a band from the 90’s that continues to innovate. Don’t forget, long before social networking, there was Pearl Jam’s Ten Club, which transcended a traditional fan club and became–and continues to be–a community. And as I stood at the DCU Center on Wednesday night, I found my eye wandering to the sign language interpreter provided by the band to a hearing-impaired fan. (Apologies for the blurry footage.)
I can already hear the counterarguments. “So? Lots of bands use interpreters!” Of course they do. But not a lot of bands reach their 20th anniversary with a rock-solid discography and a reputation for putting asses in seats and turning in 3-hour long sets on the regular.
Pearl Jam are a study in staying power and in how to do a band right. And in time where bands and songs are all but forgotten once they pass out of our feeds, they’re worth remembering.