Alpine Valley Music Theater
East Troy, WI
October 8, 2000
Story and Photos by Terry MayerThe temperature outside was 38 degrees, and it was getting colder as the darkness started to creep over the night sky. Alpine Valley was wrapping up it's 2000 concert season on a cold October evening with Pearl Jam. The last time Pearl Jam graced the stage at Alpine Valley was back in '98, a concert that was lifeless and quite frankly very boring. As I waited for the show to begin, I was thinking of how cold I was, how tired I was and how much I didn't want to be here, especially for a band that had apparently lost it's will and desire to perform the last time they were here.
The nearly sold out crowd gathering on this frigid night seemed to feel a collective brotherhood because of the the adverse conditions. Throughout the audience you could see a sea of scarves, stocking hats, and blaze orange winter coats that looked like an army of hunters ready to spread out for the kill.
It felt more like a Packer game in December than an outdoor rock concert. These fans would have showed up no matter how much snow lay on the ground. These die-hard fans wouldn't be denied no matter what mother nature threw out them.
Soon the amphitheater fell dark, which enhanced the coldness. As a blue light illuminated the darkness, Pearl Jam promptly made their way to the nucleus of the near freezing Alpine Valley stage. The fans erupted into a frenzy, suddenly forgetting the cold, as Eddie Veder and Pearl Jam stormed the stage. As Eddie began to sing the heat of his voice began to engulf his face. Band members were bundled up in winter coats and hats that resembled a group of ice fisherman heading out on frozen Lake Geneva.
As the band started to feel the groove, Eddie's intensely personal voice began to pierce the cold. This concert's aura was vastly different than the last time they graced Alpine Valley. There was a renewed energy in the band's performance, perhaps fueled by the success of their recently released European live albums which were recorded in their entirety in every city visited. Eddie's lifeless voice from '98 was renewed with a vigor and intensity that could only have come from a renewed passion for his music. Eddie made the comment "Welcome to the Ice Bowl" as he blew into his hands to keep them warm.
As Pearl Jam jammed into "Evenflow" the crowed sang along with Veder note for note. This was the Pearl Jam of years ago, with the passionate feeling that many thought was dead. Pearl Jam were simply enjoying themselves, forgetting their recent battles with the music industry and the death of a number of fans at a recent concert. It came across to everyone in attendance. They didn't care about the weather. They came for Pearl Jam and they delivered an outstanding performance. Everything came together with Eddie leading the way.
The coldness forgotten, everyone kept themselves warm by the incandescent atmosphere generated by a reinvigorated Pearl Jam.
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