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The team here at gremmie.net (goof & gremmie) have been fans of Pearl Jam since 1992. We’ve been to less than 35 shows combined. We only own a couple of posters between us. One of us has a kid. One is married. Neither of us own a vinyl copy of Benaroya Hall. Only one of us is a member of the TenClub. On average, I’d say we’re pretty normal Pearl Jam fans. Below you’ll find the top 5 Pearl Jam fans you’ll run into at a show.
If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you are this; if not explicitly, you’re one of their close cousins, such as The Collector (must have it all). The Elitist, at a show, is visibly perturbed the band doesn’t respond to his “Play Puzzles and Games!! ZOMG!!1” sign. You may even see him pout. This, of course, is not only because the band didn’t validate his self-annointed sense of specialness but because he is certain “Puzzles and Games” is better than “Light Years”. And if you think otherwise, you’re wrong. Why are you wrong? Because The Elitist has been a fan longer than you and his TenClub number is 3,xxx; which he will undoubtedly namecheck as he “schools” you on the historical significance of the “Birdman Sessions” leak. He’s heard Pearl Jam songs you never knew existed. “Cold Concession”? Heard it, hated it. “2×4”? It’s shit. He even knows better than the band, though would never claim it outright. But if he could just get 5 minutes with Ed, he’d be able to explain what they’re doing wrong. He trolls Synergy and The Sky I Scrape forums looking for loopholes to exploit in people’s lazy online logic on topics like the pedal-board Mike uses or why the best Track 4 from any album is “Given to Fly”. The Elitist bugs us most because they’re exclusive and their opinions are grounded less in fact than deranged fiction. They’re Jack Black in High Fidelity with a sprinkle of Matt Dillon from Singles. We at gremmie.net try to take the wind out of their snobby sails by leveling the playing field and giving everyone access to as much Pearl Jam as possible. If we have it, so do you.
Ten was Pearl Jam’s best album, or so proclaims the Ten-er. Having listened to nothing beyond Vitalogy (which was “the band’s last good album”), this archetype stares at you blankly when you ask if he’s heard of No Code. “No Code? Isn’t that their slow album?”. Slow indeed. He hopped on the bandwagon when Ten hit big, rode the populous wave until 1995, then skipped town on a horse named “Limp Bizkit“. The Ten-er is often accompanied by The Girlfriend (see below) which, at a show, can be fiercely irritating. Between them the three most common phrases you overhear are, “Play Betterman!”, “I don’t know this song, maybe it’s a new one.” (during Crown of Thorns), and “This is my favorite song off Ten!” (during MFC).
This type of fan was a Dead Head in the 60’s, a disco king in the 70’s, and a Metallica fan in the 80’s; dedicated, but primarily in it for the subterranean community. Going to a show requires a Santeria-esque series of rituals that include a circular cocktail of booze and drugs. Even before the first note is played, The Stoner is blitzed out of his mind. No slouch, they usually light up during the show too, blowing smoke in your face (though not purposely). Their brain functions in synapses, like a string of Christmas lights that blink every five minutes. So, communication is spotty in the event you want the guy to take it down a notch. Picture yourself speaking mostly in Latin, but every 10 words comes out in English. That’s how the Stoner hears you. Blah blah blah blah blah blah please stop blah blah blah blah blah blah choking…you get the idea.
The Family Man
The Family Man is a joy to sit next to insofar as his kid is happy to be there. Goof and gremmie have only had good experiences with this genre of fan. In fact, at MSG II in 2010 we had the pleasure of sitting right behind this(link) kid and his Dad, X. The kid’s name is Griffin, aged 12?, and his excitement was palpable. It was his first show and his Dad made good on bringing him. Their father-son comraderie was at once both totally awesome and poignant. The show was better because of this scene. The Family Man is also The Top of the 9th Deserter. Let me explain. As a parent (ask Goof), you can’t always stay until the end. With kids, you need to bail early to beat traffic and get home at a reasonable hour because the kid has school the next day and as the parent you’re cool, but not THAT cool. As such, you leave at the Top of the 9th (see also: after the first encore) in order to be responsible and set a good example. The familial demographic of Pearl Jam fans is slowly shifting; these guys will shortly become the majority. Cheers to The Family Man!
Fortunately neither goof or gremmie have dated The Girlfriend, but we’ve known people who have and we never had the heart to say anything. Indeed, that makes us enablers. The Girlfriend is perpetually bored and will spend the entire show cheeks to seat unless she hears the opening verse to either Elderly Woman, Betterman, or Last Kiss. Even then, she’ll slowly stand, barely excited, and tacitly sing along. If none of these songs are played before the first encore she’ll complain to her boyfriend (who really should have brought a fan) that she wants to leave. What may get a rise out of the The Girlfriend is if Black is played – because that song was written for her, and if only the whole world understood her pain the way Eddie did when he wrote Black, her inability to truly love wouldn’t be so misunderstood. If you’re in New York, this means she’ll want to go to La Esquina for a late dinner and then Pianos on the Lower East Side for a drink and “cool” music. Of note: The Girlfriend is always disproportionately better looking than the pile of chum she’s with.
For posterity, gremmie most closely resembles the Elitist subset called “The Collector” and Goof is “The Family Man” (though he did date a girl once who was “The Girlfriend” material).