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Enjoying the Show

Kyle McIntosh

TWO TICKETS TO the Kia Forum: $250. Event parking: $60. One beer and one water: $28. A night with my wife at a Pearl Jam concert: priceless.

A few weeks ago, we attended a concert for the first time in more than two years. It was my 13th Pearl Jam show since becoming a fan 30 years ago. My status as a Pearl Jam follower has not wavered from the first time I heard them in the early 1990s. Now that I am in my mid-40s, I see no better way to spend money than attending the band’s concerts.

What is it about these concerts that makes it worth more than $300 each time? First, there’s the excitement that builds in the months leading up to the show. The anticipation period for this concert was 25 months, thanks to the pandemic, but usually it’s about four months between ticket purchase and the event.

While waiting for the show, I take myself down memory lane by spending time listening to songs from the band’s immense catalog. More important, I connect with old friends to see who will attend upcoming concerts. We trade memories about past shows and exchange texts about the songs we’d like to hear. I get months of enjoyment for the price of admission.

Another aspect of concerts that I appreciate: We live “in the moment” every second we’re there. Aside from fielding texts about what our teenage son should eat for his second dinner, we disconnected from the rest of the world. In this age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, concerts present one of the few times you can avoid distraction for several hours. And since we didn’t have our reading glasses, we couldn’t do much with our phones beyond directing a 14-year-old to a frozen pizza.

The final thrill of a Pearl Jam concert is that it’s a fun place to talk to strangers. Nearly everyone is obsessed with the band and all are happy to be there. In the hours before the show, fans chat about their favorite albums and the number of concerts they’ve attended, and they speculate about the upcoming set list. It’s refreshing to talk openly with others—no matter their age, race or gender—knowing you have a shared passion.

While we won’t be seeing any more shows during the 2022 tour, we look forward to seeing Pearl Jam the next time they’re in Los Angeles. Let’s just hope we don’t have another pandemic-related delay.

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