Monday, June 21, 2010

Baseball, Rainbows, and Pearl Jam

I usually don't like big arena concerts. Well, that's not completely true.

I'm not a big arena snob. I don't dislike them just because it's cool to dislike them. It's just that I usually prefer smaller venues. I'd rather see Blind Pilot with 20 other people than see an Eagles reunion with 20,000 other people. Maybe it's just that I'm socially claustrophobic. Or maybe I just like cheaper beer--not to mention cheaper admission tickets. Either way, I usually find the smaller concerts to resonate on a more personal level.

As is the case with most generalizations, there are always exceptions. Recently in fact I went to a large venue concert that was not only outstanding, but also resonated as clear as a perfect fifth.

The concert was Pearl Jam. The venue: Scottrade Center in St. Louis. It ranks among the best shows I've ever seen.

One of my favorite teenage bands, the gods of flannel and grunge packed the house. They played almost all their greatest hits, but this was not the reason for their excellence that night. Eddie Vedder, their irreplaceable frontman, was the reason for my captivation.

Vedder controlled an entire arena of souls that night. With each movement of his hand and each note of his voice, every limb of every body reacted. He was a true master of puppetry.

One moment in particular stood out. He neared the edge of the stage as the night neared its inevitable end. With a bottle of wine in one hand, he took a seat upon a speaker. He placed the wine on the floor beside him and lit a cigarette. The guitars and drums continued to play behind him as he took a long draw from the cig. He exhaled slowly. With the smoke swirling around him, he took a look around the entire stadium. His long hair became curtains as he glanced onward. He smiled. And continued to smile as the music played on. Another drag on the cigarette. Another look around, now with his legs crossed. Another smile.

He was a man on top of the world. In that moment, he was free of everything. Completely satisfied, the worries of the world disappeared for a fleeting instant. All the killings in Darfur, all the oil in the gulf, all the dirt on the walls of one's personal existence. For a moment they all ceased.

I don't know if Vedder is a happy man. He might wake up every morning angry, with an insatiable desire to torture baby bunnies. But I know in that moment I was looking at a man in a state of contentment. It was a beautiful thing.

I once dreamt of gaining that feeling from baseball. For six years I rode the rainbow it offered. I fiercely clung to its slickness, yearning for the ultimate gratification that it might one day deliver. Yet I never reached the end of this rainbow. The ride was as brief as a ride at an amusement park.

But there are other rainbows to be found. I'll spot one soon, and when I do, I'll start climbing again.


lance aka lc said...

Here's a video of a member of the fervent Obama supporters Pearl Jam getting their wealth redistributed.

lance aka lc said...

Anonymous said...

When they played KC a few weeks ago, Eddie Vedder wore a Willie Wilson Royals jersey on stage - given to him by Willie who was in attendance rocking out.

I don't know what my point is other than....Go Royals? And Go Pearl Jam!

But yeah - I've always been a little envious of and mystified by people who have that drive or calling - jealous that I've been unable to find that zen in my work. But at other times I see those folks and how they are almost enslaved by their calling and the things they have to sacrifice for it and I'm okay about it. And even though I still have those days of envy, mostly I'm glad for the balance in my life that lets me spend time with my family and yet still pay the bills.

Good luck, dude. It'll all work out, even if right now you're feeling rudderless.

gbroshuis said...

I know exactly what you mean. If you have to devote your entire being to one single pursuit, thereby sacrificing time with your family and any other semblance of balance in your life, is the pursuit really worth it?

It's a great question to ask. I think family is more important than your own personal pursuits, and that there has to be a way to maintain balance between the two.

Hopefully at least.

Anonymous said...

hey gb...just heard that you and the missus are expecting....grats

Anonymous said...

btw, i have always hated stadium concerts

best concert i ever attended (before you were born...i am old) was an elvis costello gig at wolfgangs in sf

i was 17...he was still mostly an unknown in the states

couldnt have been more than a hundred people there

worst concert....the who at a day on the green at candlestick park

they played great...but if you wanted to go to the bathroom, chances were that you wouldnt have your place to sit when you tried to get back

it was hot, crowded and by the time the who took the stage...i just wanted to go home

gbroshuis said...

Thanks!! And re: The Who--sounds like the first Dave Matthews concert I went to.

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