Alive In My Rearviewmirror

Two weeks ago, Oracle hosted its annual Open World conference in San Francisco.  Each year, to show appreciation for their employees, customers, and vendors, Oracle sponsors a private rock concert.  On the day of the concert, I unexpectedly ran into my friend John, who works for Oracle.  He was headed to the show, and he asked me if I was free to join him.  I checked in with Stacie, and told her that after 20 years of waiting, I was finally going to my first Pearl Jam concert.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and in the early 90s, I embraced grunge.  I wore flannel shirts and Dr. Martens.  In college, I hung a Pearl Jam poster on my bedroom wall.  Pearl Jam is still one of my favorite bands, but I had never seen them live.  I didn’t expect my first Pearl Jam experience to be a corporate event, but I was still excited.

Despite a rocky start with “Do the Evolution,” by the second song, “Animal,” Eddie Vedder hit his stride.  Mike McCready ripped through guitar solos and Matt Cameron hammered rhythms on the drums.  They sounded like the Pearl Jam from Ten and Vs.  It was a great show, and I was happy to be there.

So were the other 50,000+ concert goers, but I was surprised by how many wanted to take their experience home with them.  John warned me this would happen – as I looked at the crowd between me and the stage, I saw a sea of people holding their iPhones or iPads above their heads trying to record the event.

Unique experiences are fleeting, and at best, I partially relive mine through photos, drawings, or stories.  Sometimes I want to preserve my experiences, but I can’t.  Time moves on, and I only hope to string together new experiences and enjoy the memories of the ones I’ve had.

I appreciate that some of those people wanted to show their spouse or their friends a clip from the show.  But I would rather just remember sharing a good concert with a great friend, than replay a video in my kitchen and pretend that that experience could come close to the real thing.

P.S.  I take videos of my kids at sporting events, on Christmas morning, and at school functions.  I kick myself when I forget to bring the video camera on vacation.  Given what I just wrote, you could argue I’m a hypocrite.  I never watch the videos I take, but I know someday I will.  I just think that trying to hold on to my boys’ childhood is a nobler exercise in futility than trying to relive a Pearl Jam concert.

P.P.S.  When you see Pearl Jam you never quite know what kind of show you’re going to get. Sometimes they play all the early hits like “Jeremy,” “Black” and “Alive,” while the very next night be mainly deep tracks from Yield, Riot Act and No Code. Regardless of what they perform, Pearl Jam approaches every show with a Springsteen-like level of passion and respect for their fans. They go out of their way to make each show special, often extending out the encores for well over an hour. It’s one reason why they continue to pack giant venues without radio hits or much media mainstream attention. – Rolling Stone

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