Pearl Jam has a history of inviting guests on stage with them at their concerts: in the past, they’ve jammed with Neil Young, Ace Frehley, CJ Ramone, Bono, The Edge and Perry Farrell. This weekend at the first Made In America Festival in Philadelphia, hip-hop superstar Jay-Z’s name was added to that list. The web exploded with tweets the minute the rapper hit the stage, and videos of the performance were uploaded as soon as he left, a little more than three minutes later.
Their two hour/twenty-five song set (the longest of the weekend) included hits “Evenflow,” “Daughter,” “The Fixer,” “Do The Evolution,” “Jeremy” and “Alive.” But a good part of the set included lesser-known tracks like “Go,” “Got Some,” “Save You” and “rearviewmirror.” There was no sense that the band, who change their setlist every night, was going too heavy on hits to cater to a crowd that probably included a lot of first-timers.
Eddie Vedder didn’t hold back on sharing his thoughts about the upcoming election, either. He noted that “One political party, we’re not mentioning names, is trying to make it harder to vote in certain places.” He said he hoped this would inspire people to be even more determined to vote in November, before launching into a cover of The Clash’s “Know Your Rights.”
Before “Unemployable,” he said, “A lot of job creators are creating a lot of jobs for other countries. We’d like to see more things made in America.” Jay-Z, watching from the side of the stage, had to be smiling: his festival kept even the least corporate band, Pearl Jam, “on brand.” (And it’s worth noting that Made In America’s t-shirts were indeed, made in America).
One big highlight was when they came out for their encore with their epic cover of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me.” But the big story of the weekend was the Jay-Z collab, which was also politically charged: they combined their own song “W.M.A.” (which stands for “white male American” and has provocative lyrics) with Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” (a song whose lyrics detail his being pulled over by an officer who he quotes as saying “Are you carryin’ a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are”).
Fans who missed the one-time only event may be in luck: Ron Howard was filming a documentary of the event (even appearing in the audience with his camera throughout the weekend), and Pearl Jam release official “bootlegs” of all their concerts, so an authorized version will likely be available soon.
– Brian Ives, CBS Local