News came down today that Pearl Jam are on the ballot for next year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class. Bands are eligible 25 years after the release of their first LP or single, and even though Pearl Jam formed in 1990, they didn’t actually release any music until 1991. That was a crucial year for the group. It was a time when they changed their name from Mookie Blaylock, recorded Ten and built a loyal fan base by touring like maniacs. By the end of the year MTV put “Alive” into heavy rotation and they were suddenly everywhere.
About six weeks after Ten hit shelves, Pearl Jam appeared at a Tower Records in Yonkers, New York to promote the album and play a little acoustic set for the tiny crowd. They were on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Smashing Pumpkins at the time and Ed’s voice is not in the best shape, as he points out during “Alive.”
“Is something wrong she said,” he sings. “Of course there is, I have no voice he said.” They also play “Wash,” “Oceans” and Porch,” and they sprinkle in a bit of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Ed’s hand is in a bandage since he injured it a couple of days earlier banging it on the drummer’s cymbals. When it wraps, they sign autographs for everyone and then takes a group photo. It was the sort of fan interaction that became impossible just a few months later when their fame exploded.
Pearl Jam spent the rest of the year on the road with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wrapping up New Year’s Eve at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on a triple bill with the Chili’s and Nirvana. It was one of the few times Nirvana and Pearl Jam shared the stage, making it one of the most quintessentially 1990s concerts ever staged. But this Tower Records video is another perfect, pure slice of history where every frame screams: “This happened in the 1990s!”