The Slapdash Bookend Pearl Jam Review.

I know what you're thinking, "Then how come, on a weekend with your big family camping trip, this whole experience has been dominated by the likes of Pearl Jam?"

And it's true. I was supposeda go camping and ride along with my dad Thursday afternoon insteada goin' in the Geo Storm Friday morning. And, yeah, that most likely woulda meant my not going on Sunday as the original plan was to leave early and have the rest of the day off for restin'. The bookends to this great and all powerful weekend were sealed deliciously by Pearl Jam concerts; for only they have the power to alter my steadfast schedule from the Family Vacation Clip Board.

Where I left off, Kon and I was sittin' 'round the campground sayin' "Bye" to the family from Yakima. We hit that damned dirty road and Kon knew right away that it felt hotter than Friday. Then again, it might've been the sun sticking to his side of the car. After a perplexing non-fuel-up in Vantage (where we SHOULD'VE just hung out in that air conditioned gas station buying ice cream sandwiches every half hour until gig time), we arrived at the Gorge sometime around 2pm.

Shoot. Me. Now. First of all, we're FIVE hours early. Secondly, there's just no sniffing any natural shade for miles and it's about 483.26 Kelvin out there. Third, yeah, I'm drinking lotsa water, but it's warm enough to poach a fucking cow. And fourth, I'm part Irish, ergo I'm wearing my black Pearl Jam long-sleeve t-shirt like a bandana on my head to prevent burnage. My tank top became 99.5% sweat and there's no A/C in that damned Geo.

Luckily, Cait was there with a few friends who'd fashioned a tarp between the two cars. I sweltered there until about 4:30, when we switched sides and fell asleep on the other side of the car, which now presented that natural shade thanks to the sun moving. Of course, weed facilitated our sleeping past the point of which Caitlin could've gotten a poster.

I bid my friends adieu as they headed for the 20th row of section C down by the stage as I found a solid patch of grass up on the hill. Not too far up, though. Right in front of one of the walk-ways, actually. It was OK, because the security dudes kept people moving. One of the "Beverage Enforcers" took this woman's beer (who was most definitely over 21) because she didn't have ID. Her boyfriend, who looked like a total clod, was about to get up and kick some ass, but she told him to relax. That was about the extent of the excitement from the crowd. Right before the second encore (during "Alive") I started walking around. Found my cigarette shack ($7 a pack!) and was promptly bombarded with moochers. One guy paid $1 for three, which is actually a pretty fair deal for THESE packs, damned mark-up. Another girl, Tammy, came over and introduced herself. She bummed one, then returned for two more with a dollar in her hand. After she asked how much the cigarettes cost here, she tried to give back one of them, but I insisted. Don't get any ideas, her boyfriend was just down the hill about fifteen feet; but she did touch my leg when "Yellow Ledbetter" came on.

By that time, I was at the top of the hill. As soon as they gave their bows and all that, I was history. Hauled balls to the car, checked the oil for a third time on this damned trip, then waited for Kon and Cait to get back. Of course, by this time, there was a line of cars a mile deep. So, we waited around the parking lot.

It's hard to describe the mood I was in this day, though. Pretty much, I just locked myself in my own little world and threw away the key for a few hours there. After the concert, as we're sitting around in the parking area, I'm laying on the grass, hands behind my head, staring at all the stars; and it hits me: This might be the last time I see these fuckers for a while. As it is, I don't get to see more than a couple, living in the city. There's two things about the Gorge that makes it worth the three hour drive: the view and the stars. Getting the fuck out of the city for a spell will do you wonders and, more importantly, make you never want to go back.

As for the show? I hear Saturday was leaps and bounds better; I'll consult the bootlegs to make sure. They did play "Little Wing" and "Fuckin' Up" which were awesome. Oh, and "Spin the Black Circle"; I've been waiting to see that song live for QUITE some time. Mostly, you got songs from the new album and the first three, with just about everything in between neglected, save "Given To Fly" and maybe a couple others.

So, I've been to five Pearl Jam shows now. The first one was that benefit show on my birthday last year. That was sweet, but it was only an hour long. The Gorge show I saw last year was better than this year, but they also did a huge acoustic set at the beginning, so obvi. The benefit show this year was better than the one last year, but again, it was longer. I'd have to say that my favorite of the meager bunch has to be the Vancouver show last year, the day after the Gorge. They just sound better, more explosive, when they're indoors. It's hard to get that with the Gorge. The sound just kinda meanders up the hill, but it's OK because you don't care. You get to lie down, menthol in hand, staring up at the night sky as "Crazy Mary" wafts all around you. The sun has set, the cool breeze soothes you through your drenched shirt, and for once you can finally ignore all the annoying drunks around you.

This was the last show on the North American leg of the tour ...