Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spurgeon's General Warning: 10 Things I Learned From Pearl Jam Twenty

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I wouldn’t say I’m a Pearl Jam fan, but I am a fan of doing things for free. So when a friend offered to take me to The Belcourt on Monday night to see the documentary Pearl Jam Twenty, I said I would attend if I could also be promised a ride. And like a good friend who is in no way irritating, I warned him that I was not very familiar with the band beyond the album Ten, and tend to actively retreat from anything overtly fanboyish. But hey! Even though the film was directed by noted fanboy Cameron Crowe, it was pretty engaging overall, and I only found myself zoning out during the last 15 minutes or so, when they aired yet another extended piece of rehearsal footage. But yes, I liked it. In fact, I even learned a few things:

Eddie Vedder is really good at climbing
Look at this human monkey! I get vertigo just leaning over a second-story banister, so I find his talent to be both impressive and horrifying. Be careful, guy!

People will laugh at the mere mention of Temple of the Dog
Seriously, at least half of the audience started to giggle when Chris Cornell started talking about that band. They hadn’t even started to play “Hunger Strike” yet! He just said “Temple of the Dog” and you could hear snickering. I felt kind of bad for him.

Cameron Crowe has the world’s most irritating speaking voice
Have you ever heard this guy talk? I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but his voice just grates on my soul. Anyway, it’s his little movie, so he gets to bookend it with his annoying narration. And he looks like Craig McCracken, the guy who created the Powerpuff Girls.

Something about Mookie Blaylock
I never thought I’d know anything about Mookie Blaylock, but know I know he was playing with the Nets when what is now known as Pearl Jam formed.

Dudes love to roughhouse …
There was a great “We’re on tour!” montage that was mostly just wrestling in hotel rooms. I loved it. Dudes, you are adorable.

Because there are no women, anywhere
I take that back — Courtney Love is seen backstage for a moment, and at one point one of the band members was holding a baby. That baby came from a woman, probably.

“Pure stoke”
I can’t remember who said it — I think it was Jeff Ament. “It was always pure stoke.” I laughed and laughed so hard! Let’s all try to use it in a sentence today. “This tuna salad is pure stoke.” “Did you see that parallel parking job? Pure stoke.”

Drunken concerts are hilarious
So the band was in Singles (another Cameron Crowe joint), and had to perform at some sort of Singles party. Pissy about it, they got absolutely shitfaced on wine and tequila — a combination my stomach doesn’t want to consider. They showed quite a few minutes of the concert, including Vedder rolling around on the ground and yelling at the lighting person to turn up the monitors. It was great fun to watch, and has given me an idea to pitch World’s Drunkest Concerts to Fox. I’d DVR the hell out of that.

“Do the Evolution”
Totally forgot this song existed.

Absolutely nothing about the record business in the early ‘90s
The way the movie tells it, Pearl Jam just started playing bigger and bigger clubs and touring Europe and, whoops, then they recorded a debut album with a bunch of hit singles that just happened to sell incredibly well. It really gave the impression that they were just sort of thrust into fame because they were so good and pure stoke, with no additional help or money behind them. There was no discussion whatsoever of a major record label — signing to it, how they felt about signing, how they came to that decision, nothing. The closest the movie came to broaching the subject was mentioning they had to change their name from Mookie Blaylock to something else. There was plenty of talk about their resentments, most of which (I think) were valid, but let's get real: It was a luxury to decide to not make music videos when that was still a viable way to get exposure. That kind of success for that kind of band will never happen again, and I was hoping to hear at least a little something about how it came to be. Fucking fanboy Cameron Crowe.

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