Freezing to Pearl Jam

Back in 2000, before the election, my friends and I decided to go to Alpine Valley, Wisc. to see the last of the ‘90s grunge bands, Pearl Jam.
It was in the middle of October and We somehow rented a van without owning a credit card or being over 21, but I guess stranger things have happened.
In fact, I didn’t even know they were playing until a few days before, when my buddy Lucas showed up at my house and told me he bought me a ticket.
Now, the middle of October is cold in Minnesota, but in Wisconsin it was 10 times worse. Alpine Valley is on the east end of the state and the further we drove, the colder it got.
Plus, Alpine Valley is an outdoor stadium.
The drive out there was madness. We stopped at Ho Chunk Casino and stayed way too long. The whole ride out there, my buddy Matt’s girlfriend would not stop annoying us.
She was a nice  enough person, but her feminist/vegetarian college kid rhetoric got on all of our nerves. She demanded to sit shotgun the whole way, even when Matt wasn’t driving.
We arrived safely and found a place to park and began tailgating (this venue is meant for tailgating). There were hippies, jocks and indie rock dorks all around.
We unpacked a grill and began to cook up some burgers and steaks. That’s when Matt’s girlfriend became unbearable.
She demanded we set aside a special part of the grill for her to grill mushrooms. This was a tiny grill and she got all huffy if a burger was within an inch of her vegetarian meal.
Now, I respect the fact people don’t eat meat based on moral grounds, but to be so far gone as to demand what was literally the impossible was downright insane.
If memory serves me, we just cooked her food first to avoid a scene.
Well, we got through the ordeal and had a bit of fun before the show started.
Not thinking how cold it would be, I only had a hoody with me. It helped, not very much, but it helped.
The show began. The band came on stage sporting winter coats and hats and gloves.
Eddie Vedder, the lead singer, said it was the coldest concert they had ever played and on second thought an outdoor concert in Wisconsin in October was not a well thought out plan.
But, like the crowd, they trooped on. They played almost all of the songs from their debut album “Ten,” which features some classic songs like “Black,” “Jeremy” and “Evenflow.”
I think they did that because they felt bad for us in the audience.
At one point, Vedder went on some Ralph Nader rant. It was an election year and he was jazzed up on Nader fever.
Plus, he drank a couple bottles of wine on stage. He said it warmed him up.
The show ended and we headed back to St. Cloud. It was a long car ride, but I passed out from exhaustion. It was along, cold and great day.

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