Tonight Pearl Jam is set to play their 1000th show in Stockholm, Sweden. I know this because a friend of mine has been in Europe on what many would consider a trip of a lifetime — spending weeks following Pearl Jam all across Europe, hanging out for days in some of the world’s great cities in the process. So far she’s been to Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Stockholm — where she is presently — and in the next week she’ll follow the band to Oslo and Copenhagen. No, I’m not envious AT ALL.
Anyway, my friend isn’t the only Pearl Jam fan on such a trip right now — hundreds, if not thousands of others are doing the same thing, many of them members of the band’s fan club: the Ten Club. To show their appreciation for such folks, Pearl Jam picked one fan to win a trip to Amsterdam to see the band play there and tossed in a little something extra as a surprise: the lucky fan got to craft the set list for one of the two Amsterdam shows.
According to Rolling Stone, the lucky fan — 46 year-old Rhode Island native Brian Farias — has seen the band perform over a 100 times in his lifetime and has been a member of the Ten Club since the days of Mother Love Bone, the pre-Eddie Vedder version of the band. As you might expect, Farias took his calling quite seriously, creating dozens of drafts before finally settling in on the one the band used.
Reports Rolling Stone:
Last week, while on his flight to Amsterdam, Farias had no idea that he’d soon be making what some fans are now calling the “greatest Pearl Jam setlist of all time.” But once Vedder gave him the opportunity, Farias’ real work began. As he explains, the challenge became how best to balance his own “selfish” desires with songs that audience members would enjoy, while also taking into consideration what the band was capable of playing. “It was really stressful,” he admits of the setlist-building process, “because it’s something you know is never gonna happen again. You’re only getting one shot at it.”
In the end, Farias concocted a setlist for the ages. The second of the two Amsterdam shows – or as he calls it, “my show” – included deep cuts (“Alone,” a b-side from the Vs. single “Go”), vintage rarities (“Crown of Thorns,” a rarely-played Mother Love Bone number) and crowd favorites (“Alive,” Daughter”). In fact, there was only one song, Farias says, that he absolutely needed to hear: “Bugs.” The obscure Vitalogy cut, on which Vedder plays accordion and rambles about insects, had only been played once in concert, and it was the only album cut that Farias had never heard. Vedder was initially hesitant. “Brian, we didn’t bring the accordion. I don’t have it with me,” the singer told Farias. But, as Farias explains, “Ed being Ed, always going above and beyond, he went back to his hotel and learned a way to do it on guitar. He turned it into a totally beautiful, different song.”
To top off the experience, Farias was brought out for a bow with the entire band at the end of the show. “The bow meant more to me than everything,” he says. “For the Pearl Jam audience to give me that much love, I can’t imagine what Eddie feels.”
Now, even a week after the fact, the reality of the experience still hasn’t sunk in for Farias. “It still doesn’t seem real,” he says. “As more time goes on, it gets even more emotional. It’s better than winning the lottery. All the money in the world, I couldn’t bribe Eddie Vedder to let me make his setlist. It was like programming your iPod and then Pearl Jam show up in your yard and play it for you.”
I have to say, what Pearl Jam did for Brian Farias is pretty f*cking awesome. And I’ve probably said this here before, but it’s worth mentioning again: seeing Pearl Jam at Tad Gormley in New Orleans back when they were on their anti-Ticketmaster tour back in the 90s remains to this day the greatest live music experience I’ve ever had.
Well done, Eddie…