Saturday Night Live, 1992

by John Reynolds , Brian Hyland , Kathy Davis , Jessica Letkemann on May 2, 2006

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night” is a phrase that nearly everyone recognizes as the kickoff to NBC’s long running sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). As much known for its skits, characters and comedians, SNL is loved by music fans for over thirty years because each episode features live performances by popular bands.

Nearly every popular artist since 1975 has performed on the stage at Studio 8H of NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Neil Young, The Clash, Nirvana to Sinead O’Connor, Technotronic, Men At Work and The Notting Hillbillies – they’ve all done it.

Pearl Jam has graced the stage three times in their career, and each performance can be juxtaposed in its energy and mood. From their first performance in 1992 when their buzz was peaking and Ten was exploding, to 1994 when their popularity was at an all-time high but the mood was somber, to April 2006 as the band is promoting songs from their new album Pearl Jam.

In this three-part article, TwoFeetThick.com looks at the broadcast performances as well as the skits, commercials and even some rehearsal footage where Pearl Jam was included in these three episodes spanning fourtieen years.


April 11, 1992

[ You Are Here ]
April 16, 1994

[ Read More ]
April 15, 2006

[ Read More ]

April 11, 1992

To describe the atmosphere around Pearl Jam in 1992 would take an entire book. With their popularity continuing to soar with a strong buzz around Ten and successful European and U.S club tours, Pearl Jam was at the top of their game and came to SNL ready to show America what the buzz was all about. Hosted by Sharon Stone – riding the publicity of Basic Instinct – this was the 17th episode in the 17th season of SNL. Here, we’ll look at the interesting rehearsal footage, a comical cameo during the opening monologue, the performances themselves, and Ed cramming in some face time during the closing credits.

Rehearsal

The rehearsal for their first SNL appearance occured earlier on the day of the broadcast itself, having played just down the road in Philadelphia the previous night. The stage is dimly lit with PJ’s equipment set up – Mike’s Marshall stack (2 cabinets) and Fender cabinets, Jeff’s huge bass rig, Dave’s cymbal-icious drum set on the 2ft riser, and Stone’s Marshall stack (1 cabinet) and Fender Twin amp. The band slowly approaches the stage, being directed to stand still in their positions as the lights are positioned. A tech is talking to Ed, pointing out to him where the different cameras are. The band is noodling with their instruments and Ed is listening intently to instructions given to him by various crew.

With a crew member standing by, ravaging what looks like a cup of fries or chicken nuggets, a male voice comes on saying “OK, ladies and gentlemen, Pearl Jam!” and the band starts “Alive”. Being a rehearsal, the performance is pretty subdued. Different camera angles are tested in succession. The band is apparently given time constraints, and Ed quickly checks his calculator watch and the end of the performance to see if they fell within the given limit. “Alive” is not a 3-minute pop-single, but the arrangement only differs from the record by lopping off a few bars of the solo at the end.

There are a few cheers and claps from those looking on in the studio, and Ed politely hushes them down saying “Ain’t nothin’” into the mic. There is some down-time, including some interesting practicing of the “Dissident” riff from Stone, Mike, Jeff and Dave, with Ed stoicly standing head down absorbing the music or thinking of something else altogether.

Someone in the studio says something to Ed, presumably praising his singing during “Alive” to which Ed responds “that (performance) was with half my voice tied behind my back”. Ed loses his blue jacket to reveal a Minor Threat t-shirt, takes off his calculator and puts it in his pocket. A member of the Pearl Jam crew (wearing a classic “World Jam” t-shirt, the one with blue lettering and tons of tour dates on it) is fiddling with Dave’s drums.

After more idle chit-chat, the crew member again announces “Ladies and gentlemen, Pearl Jam” and the band plays “Alive” a second time. Another reserved performance with Mike ending the song with the riff from Alice In Chains’s “Swamp Song”. At the song’s close, Ed rushes to check his watch again to see if the time was any better, but he’s left shaking his head. Mike and Jeff are playing around with some blues while the band convenes near Dave’s kit. Mike plays the “Stairway to Heaven” solo followed by the tapping from “Eruption”, prompting a wide-grinned high-five from Jeff.

The discussion between the band and an SNL crew member revolves around the dynamics of the second song “Porch”, with Jeff commenting on mic “It’ll be the same number of bars, it will just be dynamically different”. At the time, “Porch” was opening up at live shows into an opportunity for the band to jam, so at this point, they have to corral that freedom back into a concise performance for television.

The band idles for a few more minutes with Ed wondering who’s waiting for who, “I think they may be ready when we are. (getting approval) Yes, sir, alright…”. The announcer then unexplainably announces the band as “Once again, Pearl Jammers“. “Porch” is characteristically upbeat, and is similar to how the live performance is done. Before the solo, Ed once again checks his watch. As is common, before the last chorus, Ed improvs:

“There’s something, there’s something on my mind,
there’s something, everything is different
Different…

In probably the footage’s funniest moments, as the “Oh”s leading up to the song’s final chorus are building up like a huge sonic wave, Ed holds the calculator watch up to his eyes in mid scream(!) to check on the progress of the song. As the last note is hit, Ed seemingly approves the song’s duration, nodding in approval as he checks his watch.

More milling about ensues, and cast member Dana Carvey says off camera “you cats are just crazy”. Explaining the breakdown in “Porch”, Jeff mentions to an SNL crew member that “normally (we play) 24 bars, (but) we played only 6 bars”. Attention is focused to Dave as his array of cymbals apparently has the camera crew concerned that he can’t be seen. He’s asked if his cymbals can be arranged to be flat instead of tilted and Dave air-drums to see if this position would be acceptable. Realizing he’s on camera, he then makes a variety of funny faces (see below).

More idle time, and more jamming – this time the Stones’ “Beast of Burden”. Ready for their final soundcheck, the announcer who gaffed the band’s name minutes earlier is told it’s “not plural, singular” and correctly introduces them “Once again, Pearl Jam”. “Porch” is straightforward again, with Ed improving the breakdown as :


“There’s something, there’s something on my mind
There’s something, changes every time
Changes every time …”

Ed really gets into the “Yeah”s at the end of the song, losing his hat with his hair flailing, knocking down the mic stand.

The forty-minute rehearsal is over and the band and crew leave to prepare for the show later that day.


Bare stage

Crew Member on snack break

Trying camera angles

Ed and Crew Member

Ed Rehearsing

Mike and Jeff

Joking Around

“That was a good one”

Jeff

Ed’s Air Jordans

Checking time in mid-scream

Porch clocks in

Ed belting out “Porch”
 


“Don’t it make you smile?”

During the rehearsal the SNL crew spends considerable time trying to get Dave to be a little bit more visible from behind the plethora of cymbals mounted on his kit. Peering through this maze of metal, Dave makes a variety of funny faces, as shown below.

“Wait, I’m the drummer, why do you need to see me?”

“I’m your father, Luke, turn to the dark side”

“Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face”

“Glenn Danzig ain’t got nothin on me”

“Aww, fuck it!”

Intro

SNL Episode number 17.17 aired at it’s usual 11:30PM time slot on April 11, 1992. Sharon Stone – riding the popularity of the movie Basic Instinct – hosted the show and opened with a monologue similar to the movie’s famous legs-crossing interrogation scene. While previewing the show, she says “Pearl Jam is here”, and the camera pans quickly to the band standing off to the side with ghasping schoolboy looks towards the star, triggering a roar from the crowd.



The “Basic Instinct” pose

Gawking at Stone … Sharon that is

Alive

Following a skit with the then-popular character “Androgynous Pat” (“hey, hey, it’s ok” … sorry), the commercial break prior to their performance shows the band’s SNL promo picture, with 3/5 the band looking serious (Jeff/Stone/Ed) and the others with half-cocked smiles (Dave/Mike). The picture was presumably taken earlier in the day just before or after rehearsal as they are wearing the same clothes from the rehearsal.

Returning to the show, Pearl Jam were introduced by Sharon Stone with “Ladies and Gentleman, Pearl Jam”. Panning to the stage, PJ plays “Alive”, their first single from Ten. Ed is wearing a black Chicago White Sox hat (“SOX”) backwards, with a blue coat, a black Sub-Pop “LOSER” shirt, dark pants and black Nike Air Jordans. If you’re keeping score, he’s not wearing his calculator watch. Stone is sporting a black Sissy t-shirt, hair pony-tailed at the top and playing his Sunburst Les Paul. Dave thrashes his hair constantly and obviously didn’t listen to the stage crew’s advice of moving the cymbals because you can only see his arms and face throughout the performance. Jeff is wearing a black King’s X “Faith Hope Love” t-shirt, one of his famous big hats, black/red/white Air Jordans and a black Hamer bass. Mike is wearing a Lazy Susan t-shirt, black pants and boots, and playing a cherry-red Fender Stratocaster. Stone’s amp is now adorned with a cutout of two baseball bats crossed in an “X” on his Marshall cabinet and a small basketball (the Pearl Jam basketball?) perched atop his amplifier.

The performance is pretty straightforward for the first two verses and choruses, then the band lets loose during the bridge. Jeff is jumping, Mike and Stone are thrashing, and the camera gets a great shot of Ed with legs split, both hands on the mic stand, and an unabashed let-loose expression on his face. During the third chorus, Ed’s eyes are intense and his arms are noticeably trembling. Jeff is perched on the drum riser as Mike starts his solo. During the “yeah uh-huh” part of the jam, every member is going gangbusters as Jeff is jumping, Dave is whaling, and Stone is spinning his head making his pony-tail do that helicopter thing. Ed loses the hat and starts swinging, knocking the mic to the ground and ultimately ending up on the ground at the show’s close. With the crowd cheering, Ed is shot holding up both hands thanking the crowd.



SNL Promo Photo

“What you thought was your daddy”

“Alive” on Stage

Mike Soloing

Ed and Dave

“I Can’t Remember…”

“I just stare…”

The breakdown

Ed in the moment

Catching Air

Stone Gossard

PJ in 5th gear

Caught in a Mosh

Thanks
 

Porch

For Pearl Jam’s second performance, Stone introduces them with “Once again, Pearl Jam”, leading to Porch. Ed has changed shirts, into one of his common gold shirts showing a coat hanger on the front (a Pro-Choice symbol). Being censored, Ed snuffs the “fuck” in the first line. Along with Stone, Mike is now playing a Sunburst Gibson Les Paul. The band keeps a frenetic pace through the verses and Mike stops over in front of Dave, making faces with Dave smiling and laughing. The camera stays on Mike for his solo, showcasing his playing including his trait of toggling the rhythm and lead switch back and forth. Leading up to the last chorus, Ed improvs with:

There’s something, there’s something…
A woman has every right to choose, to choose, to choose
Choose for herself …

As the music builds, the band nails the transition to the last chorus with Jeff running back and forth madly across the stage, Dave going bonkers on his cymbals and Mike catches huge air with a scissors kick. Ed is hunched forward, visibly trembling as he sings the last chorus. Mike jumps on the wah-wah at the song’s close, with Ed throwing the mic to the ground. Ed waves, then quickly spins around displaying the back of his t-shirt which reads “No Bush ’92″ – 1992 being an election year (Bill Clinton defeated incumbent George Bush).



Ed and Stone

Mike playing with Dave

Ed’s Statement Shirt

More Air

Mike and his toggle switch

Mike’s Metal Head Bob

Porch’s Summit

Ed’s thanks

“No Bush ’92″
 

Credits

To close the show, Sharon Stone thanks everyone with Ed standing to her left, now sporting a black “Rock for Choice” t-shirt. When everyone starts hugging and saying goodbye, Ed turns to Sharon Stone looking for a big hug, but she won’t give him the time of day, so instead he turns to Phil Hartman. Not letting the moment slip by, Ed then unfurls a white poster with black lettering saying “See you in D.C.”, either a reference to the band’s gig in two days in Maryland, or a nod to the Election in November. The rest of the band are joking and laughing with other cast members, including a young Chris Rock sporting an amusing Cameo-style flat-top.

Seconds before the credits end, Ed waves and mouths “Hi Mom” to the camera.


“Hi Sharon, I’m Ed”

Rock for Choice T-Shirt

“See You In D.C.”

The following article originally appeared in Spin magazine’s February 1993 issue, an issue where the cast of SNL “took over” as Spin editors and writers.

My Adidas: Sex, Drugs, Rock’n'Roll, Middle Age, and an open letter to Eddie Vedder.

by Tom Davis (then on the cast of SNL)

I knew it was happening but it really didn’t strike me until Saturday Night Live cohort, Adam Sandler, handed me a wrinkled piece of notebook paper with pencilled, handprinted scrawl on it.

“What’s this, Adam?”

“It’s a letter from Eddie Vedder. He’s the lead singer from Pearl Jam. I saw him a couple of weeks ago and he asked me to give this to you. He likes you.”

“Really?”

“Eddie Vedder. He talked to you in studio 8H when they did the show last spring.”

“Really.”


Tom Davis —

This is Eddie Vedder. I sing in a band that was on your show. Don’t know if you recall… I do. In a hallway I mentioned white Adidas with green stripes. You mentioned buying seven pairs… 12 pairs… how many? I was questioning how had they remained in such good shape? I remember these shoes… think I mentioned how dear Dad wore white shoes, those same ones, thusly I would wear them too. On my back. Why do we always remember that shit? I dunno… Why am I retelling this to you? Again… I dunno. And you were dry shaving with a Bic… constant and consistent… like a Martin Scorsese school film I once saw… I see a lot of stuff… remember one-half of that… And I can play that small moment in the hallway… stop it… rewind… strange… that’s why I write thisI guess.

Bye. See you around, Eddie

I have not always been as you see me now…

But now I apparently resemble Eddie Vedder’s father. There was a time when I lived for the rock’n'roll moment, took drugs, and chased girls. But like most people in my demographic age group, I rarely go out to buy tapes or CDs. And when I do attend a concert these days, I’m usually “comped.” Thusly, rock’n'roll/MTV/”the business” is still about teenagers because they’re the ones doing the consuming. This is not to say that if a beautiful teenage girl approached me and said, “I’ve got two tickets to Pearl Jam, two hits of LSD, and a hotel room,” that I couldn’t be seduced — au contraire— I’d consume… but it’s not going to happen. I am an old fart — and furthermore — I don’t care — you Spin-reading young people can have it!

Who needs the humiliating experience of going to a stadium-size venue crammed to the rafters with lurching young fucks who must be policed by embattled ushers and security goons? Nuts. I’ll stay at home. So, I’m and old fart at 40. Fine. I’ll make my own music (I’m getting better on guitar. I still don’t count and have trouble staying in tune but I have my moments).

At some point in the early ’80s, when I learned that my favorite Adidas cross-country shoes had been discontinued, I obtained 12 pairs —what I figured was a lifetime supply—now I’m not so sure.

Yo, Eddie… what size do you wear? Comp me and I’ll show up.

Sincerely, Tom “Old Fart” Davis


Other SNL Appearances
April 11, 1992

[ You Are Here ]
April 16, 1994

[ Read More ]
April 15, 2006

[ Read More ]

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.
Brian Hyland
Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.
Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based music journalist & editor. She's been the managing editor of Billboard.com and was also previously on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bailey Singh October 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm

toggle switches are nice for small electronic projects and homebrew electronic stuffs”;`

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