Best of the Fest: Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam are now well into the phase of their career where they can do nearly anything onstage – like play a festival-closing set that doesn't include career-defining hit "Jeremy." Or open with a somber tune like "The Long Road" and shift immediately into the almost-hardcore punk of "Go" without losing the audience in the process. In between songs Vedder was often at his wine-buzzed, extemporaneous best, sophomorically chiding a crowd member carrying a flag for the size its pole, urging the audience to register to vote in the November mid-term elections and inviting the crowd to a keg party at a crew member's Austin home. While a healthy dose of fine but largely unfamiliar material from last year's "Lightning Bolt" caused a bit of a lull, a return to the band's early-Nineties classics delivered the expected cheers before a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" closed the show. That song has been in the band's repertoire for more than two decades now, to the point that they almost co-own it with Young – appropriate in that both acts are constantly taking creative chances and trust that their crowds will be willing to follow along.