April 11, 1994. Pearl Jam played the first of two shows at Boston Garden, just days after the death of Kurt Cobain. I was there, and it was intense.
Some background: this was my first proper live rock show. I had just turned 17 and, up until this point in time, my live music experience consisted of jazz performances by the likes of Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson and cover bands on the Common in my hometown of Wakefield. So taking the Orange Line into North Station to see Pearl Jam at the Garden was a pretty big deal.
Fellow Seattle rockers Mudhoney were the support act and they blew me away. Pure grunge punk fury; I couldn’t believe more people weren’t paying attention. But by the time Pearl Jam came out, all eyes were on the stage. This was the Vs. tour, so you can imagine what the setlist was like. It featured the first-ever live performance of “Immortality.” Eddie wove some lyrics to “Come As You Are” into their performance of “Black” and the crowd went ballistic. But that wasn’t the only tribute the band paid to the late Nirvana frontman.
That’s footage of Eddie Vedder smashing a hole in the Garden stage and crawling down into it. The Garden crowd en masse understood exactly why Eddie did it and what he must’ve been feeling at the time. We were feeling it too, still reeling from the news of Cobain’s suicide less than a week before.
It was a one-of-a-kind rock moment, and I got to witness it firsthand during my first-ever rock show. Thinking about it and watching the footage still gives me chills. And the setlist still blows me away.