...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sing loud cuz it's outside, sing loud cuz you're still alive. Just sing loud, alright?

Last night at Monolith, the Flaming Lips closed the festival with a visually dazzling carnival of floating orbs and shimmering lights and confetti and dancing Santas. Sitting there under the stars, I had a moment. Maybe I was all festivalled out from the two nonstop days of sun, music, sponsored-by-New-Belgium-Brewery drinks, and lots (and lots) of stairs up and down, but during the song "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" I found myself sitting back, looking up at the stars, and all around me at the gorgeous silent beasts of red rock rising up to both sides, listening to the swell of the crowd singing along at the top of their voices. I felt something twist and swell and stab inside of me.

It was just a split second that can strike you anywhere, even at a crazy music festival on an indian summer night. Despite all odds, it was this faith-affirming moment (even if everyone around me was singing about not letting robots eat them) that made me glad for the power of something that beautiful through music. My mind started to wander to one of its favorite subjects, as it often does, wondering what it would have been like to hear the lovely and pure "Ship Song" bouncing off those rocks when Pearl Jam played there in 1995. I've heard the recorded moment dozens of times, but it's got such an innocence and immediacy that I can now picture it hovering and echoing live in that specific setting.

On the dark and winding drive home, I was explaining the perfection of that particular cover to my friend & rockstar concert companion Jake, who is [wonderfully enough] as big of a Pearl Jam addict as I am. He asked if I'd heard the "It's OK" tag from the Virginia Beach show in 2000. That Dead Moon song is one that they often work in as a tag at the end of "Daughter" and I've even posted another live version of it before from a few weeks after the Virginia Beach show. It's absolutely one of my favorites, the simple strength of the creed-like lyrics and the way the crowd always sings at their very strongest. But I hadn't heard this exact one he spoke of.

So we cued it up. And it kicked the wind out of me:

It's OK (Virginia Beach 8/3/00) - Pearl Jam

This concert was Pearl Jam's first time back on stage since nine fans in the crowd had lost their lives during their set at the Roskilde Festival on June 30, 2000. With the melody of the song starting to pulse and build and carry through the night air, Ed says to the crowd:

"The last time we had to ask the crowd to do something it was under completely different circumstances than this. So, it's a little nervewracking to . . .
It'd be nice to start, uh, anew.
So, I was gonna ask you to do something and maybe you'll do it?

[crowd cheers]
And it's uh . . . singing.
Sing loud cuz it's outside, sing loud cuz you're st-. . . you're still alive.

Just sing loud, alright?

Man. I know that it makes me sound like a weepy emotionalist to just come right out and say it, but Ed's speech and the way the crowd sings along with all their hearts fairly reverberates with redemption, and listening to that moment made hot tears spring into my eyes last night that just would not stop coming even as I looked out the car window and tried to make them go back into my eyes. But at the same time, I was so glad for it, glad that music could still move me like that twice in one night for such different reasons.

The real, non-rambling reviews from Monolith start soon.

[thanks to Five Horizons for the mp3 clip]

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At September 16, 2007 10:42 PM, Anonymous mike said...

Seeing Flaming Lips at Coachella 2004 was one of the most exhilirating moments of my life. There was a moment(during the Lips' set) when I realized I was a few thousand miles from home(I'm from Ontario, Canada) and the music, the night, the people, the experience was so overwhelming beautiful that I felt a similar swell inside of me.

Ps. I hope to make it to Red Rocks one day.

At September 17, 2007 3:31 AM, Blogger Joe said...

I was at the Jones Beach show the second time PJ played the "It's OK" tag and it was amazing. I didn't even know the song before, but when they started playing it, I knew I was hearing something special. And on the drive home, when the local radio station replayed the whole show, and that came on, I was like, yeeaaahhhhh.

PJ is the only band that can make me feel like that, you know?

At September 17, 2007 9:03 AM, Blogger serena said...

i was at the jones beach show as well... 'it's ok' is something i'll never forget.
funny how it often goes back to pearl jam... ;)

At September 17, 2007 12:17 PM, Blogger Andy said...

thanks for posting this clip.
I was lucky enough to be at the VA Beach show. Ed's speech, and the song were really amazing to be a part of. It was one of those moments where you buzz, the hair on your neck stands up, and you think, 'there is nothing else like this. Nothing in the universe that could tap me in to this kind of energy. God, maybe...but not much else.’ It was as close to religious as you could get, I suppose. I don't know. It is kind of hard to describe. I try not to exaggerate it. It’s just that element of rock and roll, where you are electrified in this great big sonic communion, with thousands of other people singing together, for a brief moment totally united to every other stranger around you. How do you describe that? You have to have felt it, right? I get the same in the guts kind of feeling when I think about seeing U2 walk out on stage during "Where the Streets Have No Name" on the Joshua Tree Tour (I'm dating myself, I know). It seems like, if more people could experience that kind of togetherness, well, you can do the math…
It was an awesome moment, though, knowing that regardless of whatever else was happening in the world, you were being invited to celebrate just being alive, I guess.
It's strange, too, when you think about how just a year or so later, that kind of celebration would mean something entirely different, but, I'm going beyond what I meant to say...
Anyway, thanks for posting this. It was a fine memory and you brought it back into focus for me...

At September 17, 2007 2:44 PM, Blogger terri said...

I haven't attended any Pearl Jam concerts, and I was unable to participate at Monolith...but I will tell you this: I know the feeling of overwhelming emotion that music can bring.

It is why I love music so.

So glad you got to feel it twice in one night...

At September 17, 2007 11:54 PM, Blogger Pete K said...

Exactly what Ed was talking about on Storytellers last year. "You're still alive"

I've always loved this cover.

At September 18, 2007 8:10 AM, Blogger Little Dynamite said...

i totally know what you're saying...i just saw my first lips show the other night, and it was a weird but incredible feeling...it's hard to explain, but there's something in that music and in their performance that strikes you...the only thing i could think of in my review of the show was an orientation concert on my way through the Pearly Gates...strange, i know, but it was the closest thing i could compare it too...

At December 14, 2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous edvedd said...

I was at the VA Beach show in 2000 and the "Daughter > It's Ok" from this show was definitely amazing. That entire night was incredible. I remember having what I believe was an out of body experience during "Nothing As It Seems" at that show. I really can't describe it in words other than it was an incredible feeling. It worth having a SBD recording of the show if you don't already own it from the 2000 Official Bootlegs.

At December 31, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger eddiected said...

This totally changes the way you 're feeling! It sounds like Eddie and the whole band have been reborn! That's what we call "catharsis" in Greek tragedy. Thanks Heather! I love these guys!

At July 04, 2008 1:06 PM, Blogger Wulfchld said...

The Virginia Beach show was my first live PJ experience. It was also my first concert, period, in a long time. I was amazed at the dedicated fans I saw in the stands and on the WET lawn in the back. I remember that there was no hesitation when Ed asked the crowd to sing. He also asked how we were all doing in the back where things got a bit sloppy in the drizzle. I since seen a few more shows, the latest this spring in DC, and have discovered my new favorite act.

Thanks for such a great site.


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