The final uncoiling of a thing set in motion on 15 July when I was notified that I had reserved GA tickets for Philly night 2 on Oct 22 culminated in the greatest night of my life. The first order of the day was finding the lucky someone to accompany me on such a venture. I weighed several options including family, friends, friends from PJ tours past or perhaps a stranger in a PJ GA 1 for 1 swap. I opted for going with my oldest most reliable PJ buddy. He himself is well over 15 shows; I'm in my mid 20's PJ shows. One of the prerequisites for taking my ticket (at face value of course) was being able to dedicate the entire day to the adventures and festivities of attending a PJ show with GA tickets in tailgate happy Philly. My goal since the initial confirmation email back in July was to get as close as humanly possible to the stage. The only thing standing between me and the greatest PJ show of my life was the amount of planning and effort I was willing to take on to get there. Well, the first thing when I opened my eyes on 22 Oct was to think "This is PJ day, and I have to get to town". I washed, checked the forums, packed a cooler with beer and other mandatory items and headed for the Flyer's arena. The box office opened at 2:30 and I was there pronto. I had my wrist bands and tickets in hand right around 3 at which point I discovered the GA entry point. I abandoned all other preordained scenarios and grabbed my cooler and lawn chair and took my space in line as PJ fan # 140 or so. (i didn't actually get a number but judging by where I was in line, it is safe to presume I would have been right around 140 had I cared to inquire about a number). It was right about this time my buddy informed me that he was getting stuck at work longer than he had thought. So there I sat and drank and made friends until the doors opened at 6:30. At 6:30 we all made our way down to the floor and the stage and marveled at the prospects. And there we stood for 2 hours as the house packed in and anticipation mounted. Much of the time was spent checking our PJ stat trackers and choosing our most fitting requests for the evening. Unfortunately, I didn't get any of the setlist requests I had hoped for such as No Way, Ghost & Army Reserve. But Luckily, being dead center stage and 6 feet from the front gate the setlist was the last thing on my mind. They could have played Mary had a Little Lamb on repeat and I would have been in heaven. The show was incredibly loud, louder than I ever remember another PJ show, or perhaps my sensitive ears are another year older and more sensitive to the physical sensual onslaught laid down by the strings and vibrations of the greatest band of my era. Up to this point every instance of the evening had exceeded my expectations. It was Ledbetter and the lights were popping everywhere on stage. All the lights in the joint were on and I was trying to follow the guys on stage. And then, from somewhere in front of me I saw Jeff Ament strip his arm of a piece of cloth and wind up to hurl it into the crowd right in my direction. The only thing I could think to do was raise my arm and refuse to pray. I closed my eyes and felt it, I felt it firm and snug in the palm of my left hand extended out far above my head. Jeff Ament had just tossed his wrist band directly into the palm of my extended hand; forever cementing the best night of my life. If all as I have just described isn't enough. This doesn't even take into account the countless, nameless PJ fans I encountered on the way. To all the polite individuals on the floor with me who let me use the bathroom and then seamlessly return to my spot on the floor, I bow to you. And all the folks driving out after the show stuck in Flyer's Arena traffic who were signaling, high-fiving and thumbs-upping my way all the way home I kneel to you. There is no crowd like a Pearl Jamily crowd. I'll see you in Hartford.
"...You try it, I give you the room, you try..."