As day two of the Made In America festival came to the end, much of the crowd decided to leave early. That was just fine for the thousands of Pearl Jam faithful, who had plenty of room to witness the 20-year-old Seattle band rock out after being personally chosen by Jay-Z to close the festivities.
The grunge and alternative-rock pioneers took the stage at about 9pm, and began an impassioned set of hits from their extensive catalog. The rain also started up again, but that did not stop the band nor its fans. Only a handful of photographers were allowed in the photo pit, myself not included. I decided to put my camera gear up and enjoy the set from the crowd.
The festival live-streamed most of the main acts on YouTube and Pandora on both days, but Pearl Jam decided to opt out. In some way, this decision made the performance more personal and special for the fans in attendance. Fans at home didn't feel the same, and expressed their frustrations on Twitter.
Pearl Jam combined hits such as "Alive," "Even Flow" and "Jeremy" into a two-hour, 25-song set that had many fans headbanging and shouting in approval. Lead singer Eddie Vedder began to preach about politics and the recession between songs.
"There is a political party in this country that is trying to make it harder for you to vote," he said.
"I'd like to see more things 'Made In America,'" Vedder continued, a lead-in to the song "Unemployable." He also urged people to get out to vote in November, and the band covered The Clash's "Know Your Rights."
In an endearing moment, one of the festival security guards made two PJ fans very happy. As the rain intensified, he noticed an older couple sitting on lawn chairs just outside the festival gates. They were content to hear their favorite band from there. But Mr. Nice Guy invited them inside, much to their surprise and appreciation.
As the end of the second out neared, the expected yet unexpected came to be. Jay-Z joined Vedder onstage for "99 Problems." This was both amazing and memorable, as two of music's biggest acts joined forces to entertain on such a high level.
After Jay and Eddie shook hands and embraced in a man hug, the night ended with a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World."
So that's how Made In America ends... with rap, rock, punk, Latino and EDM providing the soundtrack for the current generation of music fans.
Until next year?
Personal Bias: I didn't know much about Pearl Jam before this show, but now I see why they have such a big following.
The Crowd: Rocked out with raised devil horns all night, even in the rain.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Overheard In the Crowd: "I was making out with this random chick, rubbing her tits as 'Even Flow' played. It was awesome!" -- David from Toronto
Random Notebook Dump: I met awesome writers and photogs from Philly and New York who were happy to chat and exchange info. Definitely one of the perks of going to these things.