About a month ago, when the Cinerama began selling tickets for the premiere of the Pearl Jam 20 movie, I looked at my late September calendar and realized that my schedule would be chaotic. I might be available to see the show, and then again, I might not.
Because of this, I decided against purchasing tickets. Not so much for financial reasons (two tickets would have been $18), but because I could have been taking tickets from people who would definitely attend. In addition, it would leave a two-seat hole in an otherwise full house.
Yesterday, when 7:00pm rolled around, I began to feel a wave of disappointment. The Nevermind Benefit was being held at EMP a few blocks north, PJ20 was being shown a few blocks west, and because I couldn’t commit weeks earlier … I had tickets to neither.
Undaunted, I grabbed my wallet, threw on a jacket, and headed toward the door.
“Where are you going?”, asked my wife.
“I’m walking over to Cinerama to see the Pearl Jam Movie premiere”, I replied.
“It’s completely sold out.”, she said.
“I know”, I said, “but I’m going to see it anyway.”
With that, I headed out the door.
You see, for some reason, I knew that I would be able to get in. I really had no doubt. Loyal Pearl Jam fans, those who would sell out a movie about the band, are different eggs. There is an ethical tie that binds, and if they can help another fan out, they probably will.
As I approached Cinerama on foot, I spotted the line wrapped around the corner, and I passed the crowd and made my way to the front door. Also standing near the front door was another gentleman about the same age as I. He watched me carefully, and when I stopped, turned around, and started scanning the line, he said “Do you need tickets to the show?”.
“As a matter of fact, I do”, I replied.
“Here you go”, he said, “I bought a couple of tickets, but I won’t be able to see it tonight. I have to go.”
I looked down, and the man was extending a ticket toward me.
“Hey, thanks”, I said reaching for my wallet, “how much do I owe you?”
“Oh, nothing”, he said, “I just want the ticket to go to a fan. I don’t want there to be an empty seat for the premiere.”
Wow, this man had been in my same scheduling predicament, but he bought tickets anyway with the intent to give them away should he not be able to make it. I felt rather bad for not doing the same.
I thanked the gentleman a few more times, then he was on his way … seemingly happy, as was I. Not even I had expected to score a ticket within 20 seconds of arriving, and I certainly did not expect it to be free. Then again, I wasn’t exactly shocked. It was, after all, a Pearl Jam crowd. A Seattle Pearl Jam crowd at that.
The movie itself was excellent. It’s a two hour homage with home video, narratives, and concert footage — but the crowd participation made it feel like a live show. People laughed, they cried, and they wildly applauded. I couldn’t imagine seeing the film anywhere other than where it all began, in a theater full of hundreds of people, many of whom were actually there. I’m sure I’ve encountered many of these same people dozens of times before, perhaps even holding a few of them over my head at some point.
If I had to pick a favorite moment in the film, it was probably when Stone was being interviewed in his house. He was asked what PJ memorabilia he kept in his home, and aside from a coffee mug and a few CD’s, he had none. Finally, they went into his basement to rummage for any forgotten items. After some searching, Stone pointed to a cluttered corner and said “Oh, look, there’s a Grammy” … at which point the audience erupted in laughter. The night was full of moments like this.
Walking back out onto the city streets when the show ended was actually a bit surreal. When you see a movie, it’s usually set in a faraway place, but much of the PJ20 footage was shot right here in Seattle. I literally stepped out of the theater, and onto the set. I walked past the Moore Theatre, the old Sub-Pop offices, and on a complete whim, I went out of my way to walk past the El Corazon, which used to be known as the Off-Ramp … site of the first Pearl Jam gig some 20 years ago. It was the most satisfying walk I have taken in awhile.
Sometimes, nostalgia is good for the soul.