Precious few people know about this blog. It isn’t listed on Blogger; I don’t include its URL in my MSN name; and I’ve never sent out a mass E-mail advertising its location. I’m hyper self-conscious about my own writing–so if you’re a regular visitor, you’ve likely received the address directly from me. Where am I going with this? I guess it’s leading–awkwardly–to me saying how I gave out the URL to someone new this evening: Eric Sherkin. Most of you know Eric as the guy who managed the QP to its most successful business year of all-time, before getting fired and…well, you know the rest. But for me, Sherkin is more than a bar manager: besides being a good friend of mine and one of the people who helped me assimilate into the Walkhome staff, Eric has also shared with me some of my most spectacular concert memories.
That’s right: Eric is my Pearl Jam road trippin’ buddy.
As of this writing Sherkin and I have seen seven–count ’em, seven–Pearl Jam shows together. The weird thing is, we haven’t actually sat together at any of them: we’ve travelled together, waited in Ten Club lines together, passed out on a friend’s floor in St. Catharines together…yet not once have we sat side-by-side while Pearl Jam have been on stage. I would imagine this will change in the not-so-distant future; for now, here are the top five Pearl Jam related moments than Sherkin and I have shared:
- The Hug: State College, PA, 5/3/03. State College was, along with Boston III and either MSG I or Buffalo (depending on who you ask), part of the 2003 Pearl Jam North American Tour’s holy trinity. Sherkin wasn’t originally supposed to come with me and Patty Sipes to see it, then found himself a decent single and…well, it was on. Anyway, to make a long story short, he wound up sitting nine rows in front of us, the band played the longest show of its career, and during the concert-ending version of “Yellow Ledbetter” (performed, as usual, with the houselights fully on), Eric wandered back to where Patty and I were sitting, and together the three of us rang out the show with a prolonged group hug and sway. The perfect, most fitting ending to a wonderful evening.
- The Call: Toledo, OH, 12/2/04. I didn’t see any of the actual shows on the Vote for Change Tour (unless you cound the two Boston shows, in which case…I did), although I was being offered face value tickets for Toledo as late as the night before. Instead, I decided to stay home–and right before Pearl Jam took the stage, I got a call from Sherkin which started, “Steve, why aren’t you in Toledo, Ohio?” Good question, seeing as how Young Neil and Peter Frampton had both participated in a prolonged soundcheck earlier that afternoon. An hour or so later the phone rang again, and for the next twenty-seven minutes I sat with mouth agape as Pearl Jam and Neil Young played “Harvest Moon”, “All Along the Watchtower”, “Act of Love” and the beginning of “Cortez the Killer” in the background. I can’t even imagine what this phone call cost Eric to make–but I can assure him it was worth every freaking penny. (Sherkin also assures me I got a similar call during MSG II ’03, although I can neither confirm nor deny this rumour.)
- The Move: Buffalo, NY, 5/2/03. Buffalo is a night that will live on in legend: as long as I’m alive I will insist it was the greatest rock n’ roll concert that ever was played. Once again, I was sitting with Patty Sipes; Sherkin, meanwhile, had scored a decent pair in the stands with our friend Daphna Gelbart. Right before Pearl Jam was scheduled to take the stage, the kid sitting behind Daphna puked all over her jacket. One thing led to another, Daphna and Sherkin were taken to customer service, Daphna’s jacket was put in a bag…and then the two of them were upgraded to fourth-row floor seats to compensate for the inconvenience! I’m serious: Daphna’s newly issued ticket actually read, “Patron was vomitted on.” Can’t get much more explicit than that. Just as the lights were about to go down the two of them raced past us with vague cries of “we got fourth row!” ringing in our ears. They were close enough to hear the band members talking amongst themselves up on stage.
- The Line: Toronto, ON, 6/28/03. Hometown show, a venue exactly seventeen minutes by GO Train from my front door, a warm June day…just the perfect time for a six-hour long camp out in front of the Molson Amphitheatre box office. I arrived at nine o’clock (I was about eightieth in line, in case you think I’m the only one who’s this crazy); Sherkin got there an hour later, and together the two of us spent five hours chilling, hanging out with the rest of the die hards in our midst, reminiscing about concerts past and anticipating what would come later that night (which, to be honest, wasn’t the band’s finest hour). We did a similar thing under the blazing sun in State College and Montreal, but for the all-around line-up experience nothing beats Toronto.
- The Idiot Road Trip: Hershey, PA, 7/12/03. Proof that Sherkin and I are desperate for a Pearl Jam fix: buying tickets to the band’s hastily scheduled show in Hershey, PA, the sole basis for which was that the show was on a Saturday and we could make it there and back in two days. The setlist was mediocre, our seats were awesome (Eric: 8th row centre; Heather Jewell and I: 13th row left of centre), the venue a vision of Hell, the hotel in Harrisburg the quintessential Traveloge. The Pearl Jam fix can be an awful one to satisfy, and when you’re as insane as me and Eric you’ll go to great lenghts in order to do so. Hershey is irrefutable proof of this fact.
So there you have it. Pearl Jam will most likely be touring again later this year, and you can bet that when it happens Sherkin and I will be pulling out our map books and deliberating our TenClub seniorities and securing enough funds to see a whole bunch of shows. This time, we might even sit together! And even if we don’t, we will be in half an hour when we meet at the Duke of York for drinks. This is Stephen Johns, President of Eric Sherkin Tribute Day, and I approve of this message.