Back in 1992, the local alternative music station (which was actually good at the time) started hosting a day-long concert featuring many different bands from all across the indie spectrum. It turned into an annual event that carries on to this day, though I no longer give it a second thought. I went to the first three of these Edgefests (named after the sponsoring station) and enjoyed them immensely. However, these days the lineups just don’t do it for me. But I am not here to complain about that. I’m here to mention a different transformation.
At Edgefest 3, I ended up passing out in the April heat during Crowded House and waking up to the Violent Femmes. This was the only one of the three ‘fests I went to and sat in the lawn area – also known as “grass” seating for obvious reasons. I went with two of my brothers, along with their wives, and have a vague recollection of Tripping Daisy closing out the show with a killer set.
At Edgefest 2, my buddy Ray somehow secured second row seats for us. This made my music weenie go a little crazy for two reasons: 1) Local band (and friends of mine through my brothers) pop poppins was playing that day and 2) San Francisco-based Jellyfish was also on the bill. Of course, pop poppins had to act cocky and invite people to stage rush – which they did – even though they were only the second act of the day. There is nothing quite like mayhem at 11am or so. If memory serves me correctly, the two headliners of this 1993 show were the Tragically Hip and Dada, totally ignoring just how great Dinosaur Jr. was at the time…
Disclaimer: pop poppins is spelled as such, with no capitalization. Also, the lead singer Broose is probably the sole culprit regarding the rushing the stage act, but he is a little “different” in a good, artsy way. If you don’t believe me, check out the link.
Finally, we find ourselves way back at Edgefest 1 in 1992. Despite the Sugarcubes and the Charlatans U.K., I was really ramping up to see Dramarama. They were, after all, the headliner – probably based upon the fact that they had just released their CD ‘Vinyl’ which included the song ‘What Are We Gonna Do’ regarding the new holiday Earth Day. (Another note: the date of the original Edgefest was chosen because it coincided with Earth Day. Save a tree and all that, you hippies.)
Playing right before Dramarama, however, was Pearl Jam. They were fresh off of their initial release (‘Ten’) and getting tons of airplay for their song ‘Alive’. (‘Jeremy’ hadn’t even touched the charts yet.) I owned this release, on cassette I think, and had given it a perfunctory listen. Since I was in my early stages of music-snobdom, and had already worn out Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ release, I was ready to write them off as just another Seattle band riding the insurgance of Kurt Cobain’s little trio. But then I heard them perform their song ‘Black’. Much like Dawn and Lois after the naughty room at the video store, I was never the same…
“Interesting”, I thought. At that time it was not common to find a hard rock band that combined social issues, politics, catchy hooks, and guitar solos that did not detract from the song(s) by reeking of showing off. In fact, that is still rare. But it happened then, as people rushed the stage without being asked, leaving Dramarama to play to a dilluted audience. I couldn’t wait to get home to give that cassette another listen.
But I was also a little cautious. I was ready for another one-hit (or one-album) wonder. I had been there before with Drivin’ and Cryin’ and School of Fish. I was not getting my hopes up.
Lo and behold, though, Pearl Jam has perservered. Matured, even. Much like a certain Irish band that I started following in the 80’s. Like said Irish band, the structure is still there and as catchy as ever, but it always sits in the backseat because the message is driving. And now, as I leave all the tidbits about how AT&T supposedly censored Pearl Jam’s politcal rhetoric out of this entry, I am left with one question…
When did Eddie Vedder morph into Bono?
If you don’t believe me, watch the video and pay close attention to the facial expressions, not to mention the (now) physical similarities.