Pearl Jam Twenty Weekend Survival Guide

by Jessica Letkemann on August 31, 2011

PJ20 Venue Map

PJ20 Venue Map

Right about now, tens of thousands of Pearl Jam fans are packing their bags, gassing up cars, double-checking flights. Soon we will all converge on the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, WI for a massive celebration of our favorite band’s 20th birthday.

You could never predict all the great stuff that could happen in two big days of Pearl Jam-led goodness — and you wouldn’t want to! — but we’ve picked our brains and sweated the small stuff to come up with these tried and true tips for getting the maximum fun (and minimum hassle) out of this special two-day PJ marathon.

Some of these ideas will be familiar, some may be new, and some might just not fit your style or situation, but bottom line, we humbly hope they’re helpful!

What’s In Your Bag?

You may or may not the kind of person who feels like schlepping a bag into a show, but it’s pretty likely that someone in your traveling group will have a backpack or a purse and will be willing to toss in a few items for the comfort of all. These shows are 12-hours long, you can’t go in and out during the day, it’s all largely outside and what you’ve got on-hand and in the car can make a huge difference.

Consider bringing:

  • ibuprofen or aspirin
  • sunblock
  • your phone charger
  • a poncho or waterproof anorak
  • something with sleeves
  • ear plugs

If you’re down with carrying a bit more stuff:

  • a couple of bandaids
  • some empty water bottles
  • hand sanitizer
  • snack bars (they’ll let in a cooler if you’re so inclined)

Things you’ll be glad you’ve got back in your car:

  • a clean shirt
  • clean socks
  • water
  • something to eat

They Won’t Let This Stuff In:

  • Alcohol
  • Strollers
  • Fancy cameras (but your point and shoot or iPhone is welcome)
  • Your pets
  • Fireworks

Wear It Well

Pull out whatever garb you like, but comfort and utility are your friends. Some people swear by flip-flops in the summer, but you may want to reconsider when you’re digging dirt out from under your nails on Monday.

The forecast is for mid-70s and isolated thunderstorms during the day Saturday, lower 60s at night; low 70s and mostly sunny on Sunday during the day, but LOW 50s on Sunday night! It’s hardly the Ice Bowl (whew!), but you’ll be shivering if you only have shorts and a t-shirt on while Pearl Jam is rocking your face off. We don’t want to see anyone using Pearl Jam socks from the merch booth as arm warmers like we did in 2000! Considering Saturday’s forecast, some easily packable raingear (like a plastic poncho) also makes sense. And if nary a drop of rain falls, hey, you’ve got a good little tarp to sit on while hanging out on the lawn.

Know Your Show Buddies

It might sound obvious, but how well do you know the person you’re spending two days with in random part of Wisconsin? Do you know how to call their loved ones if need be? Do they have any allergies? Do they know if you do? These are small points, but knowing the answers could mean trouble easily avoided, and not knowing the answers has the off-chance of derailing your weekend.

Make A Plan Of Attack

Read the PJ20 map, study the PJ20 map, love the PJ20 map!

PJ20 Venue Map

PJ20 Venue Map

One thing you poster hunters will notice is that there is a merch booth outside the grounds. That means you can nab your poster, t-shirts, stickers, and assorted other PJ20 doodads before the show and take it back to your car where it will stay clean and unstomped on. You’ll also be glad you’re not carrying it around all day.

The map will also guide you to the bathrooms, the ATMs, the water stations, food, the PJ museum, the 10 Club park, and the stages. One spot to memorize — and hope you never need the knowledge — is first aid. It’s by the front gates.

The gates open at 11am and the music starts at noon. If you’re sitting on the lawn, whether or not you’ve got Ten Club lawn seats, and you care about how close to the main stage you are, get there as early as possible . Also know that if you abandon your spot on the lawn it won’t be there when you get back.

And really, getting there early isn’t just for the Lawn folks. The area Sheriff’s office has issued a high-traffic warning because not only will the only road leading to the venue be down to one lane due to construction, there is also a popular county fair taking place along that road this weekend. That being said, the parking lots open at 9am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday.

Similarly, pack some patience on the way out. The parking lots will be very congested and it could take some time to exit. Aren’t you glad you have a clean shirt, snacks, and some good tunes in the car?

Pace Yourself

Cold beer and summer afternoons go together well, but you might want to consider taking your time chugging down the brews. It’s a long day and if you’re really knocking em back you may come away from the weekend with only a bad hangover and an empty wallet instead of great memories of friends and music. Plus, Murphy’s Law say Mike McCready throws a pick right at your seat right when you’re in the bathroom again.

And it really goes without saying, but if you’re drinking, someone else is driving. Please. The more safe, healthy Pearl Jam fans in this world, the better.

Ten Club Ticket Specs

Friday Pick Up: If you’re around, you can swing by the venue on Friday, Sept. 2 from 5pm to 9pm to pick up your packet of four tickets, two wristbands, any special passes (Expo Center, VIP parking) you bought, plus, the confirmation email mentioned “some bonus Ten Club goodies.” Enter through the main entrance, and grab your packets at the special Ten Club will call tent near the main box office. They’ll let you park long enough to get your stuff, but then you have to leave for the day.

Saturday Pick Up is in the same spot and will be open from 9am to 10 pm. If you can’t make it until Sunday, snag your packet on Sunday at the main box office.

Entry: Each night of the fest, you can scoot right in via the Ten Club-only entrance right near the 10 Club will call tent.

Hotel Deets: If you bought a travel package that includes hotel, your tickets will be at your hotel and you should have received specific instructions in email from CID Entertainment. If you haven’t or you have questions about the travel/hotel stuff, email pearljamtravel@CIDentertainment.com

Lawn Jam: As you know, if you bought 10C tickets, you get one pair for the lawn one night and one pair for the pavilion the other night. Four tickets. You can hand those out to your buddies as you see fit, but remember you only get TWO 10C wristbands. So if you’re bringing a different friend each night, only one gets access to the special (closer) 10C lawn section and only one can visit the Ten Club park with you, relaxing and snarfing some free refreshments. Also note that the wristbands are color coded by day. So, if you have lawn tickets for Saturday, let’s say, you get Color A, whereas all the fans who got Sunday lawn have Color B. What that basically means is you can’t go in the special 10C lawn section on the day you have pavilion seats. Sounds fair to me.

Lawn Caveat: That 10C lawn section is the closest to the stage of all of the lawn, but take note that when Pearl Jam comes on, they take away the fence anyone can wander over there. So stake your spot!

Pavillion Seat Assignment: As for your pavilion night, Ten Club is allotting seats by seniority as they have in recent years. Row 1, 2, 9 and 10 are randomly allotted, and the rest go depending on how long you’ve been in the fan club, with the people who’ve been in the longest starting in row 3 and back.

Ticket Questions: Have any Ten Club ticket questions, email em to tickets@tenclub.net And remember reselling a fan club ticket for more than face value will not only get your tickets cancelled, the Ten Club will yank your future ticket privileges.

Know Your Opening Bands

Pearl Jam has graciously timed bands all day so that if you wanted to see all 12 of them each day, you could. And if you wanted to see all 12 of them at least once over the course of the weekend, you’ll be left with plenty of time to hang out with friends, wander the grounds, etc. Judging by the lineup full of PJ and PJ side project opening acts, collaborators, punk legends, and the like, it’s pretty clear that Pearl Jam really wants you to go see all the other bands playing. They love these groups, they want you to give them a chance, you’re at the show, so why not? Below is a quick guide to each act and their Pearl Jam connection.

The Strokes
Where & When: main stage, 8:15-9pm
Who Are You?: New York rockers who had their first hit with 2001′s “Last Nite” and have been releasing hot albums (most recently 2011′s “Angles”) and co-headlining festivals (Lollapalooza 2010) ever since.
Pearl Jam Connection: Eddie Vedder is a fan and jumped on stage in May 2006 for “Juicebox” at Rolling Stone’s 1000th party. That same year a studio cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me” by Eddie, The Strokes, and Queens of the Stone Age came out (and recently also surfaced on the Live From Nowhere Near You compilation).
More Info: http://www.thestrokes.com

Queens of the Stone Age
Where & When: main stage, 7-7:45pm
Who Are You?: The rawking Josh Homme & Co., purveyors of “No One Knows,” “Burn The Witch,” and “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer.” It takes a special band to claim post-Nirvana Dave Grohl as a one-time fill in drummer!
Pearl Jam Connection: Aside from the aforementioned Seattle connection in Grohl, didja know that it was Mr. Stone Gossard who originally signed QOTSA? Yup, SG put out their first record on his Loosegroove label in 1998.
More Info: http://www.qotsa.com/

Mudhoney
Where & When: main stage, 6-6:45pm
Who Are You?: Aw, you know! Great fuzzed-out guitars, early Sub Pop heroes, and still Sub Pop heroes. “Touch Me I’m Sick,” “Overblown,” “Into Your Schtick” and a zillion other great ones you’ve even heard Eddie sing bits of as “Daughter” tags (“Suck You Dry”).
Pearl Jam Connection: Singer Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner were in Green River with Stone and Jeff (1984-1987). Stone was also previously in Ducky Boys with Steve. Mudhoney has opened for Pearl Jam a ton (cf. 1994, 1998).
More Info: http://www.subpop.com/artists/mudhoney

John Doe
Where & When: stage one, 4:40 – 5:30 pm
Who Are You?: co-founder of L.A. punk legends X. His brand new record is “Keeper” and it literally came out this week.
Pearl Jam Connection: Ed is a huge fan: he’s covered Doe’s “The Golden State” alone and with Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker. He’s rocked a stage with JD more than once (cf. Seattle’s Easy Street Records in 2005), and Ed & Supersuckers collaborated on a cover of X’s “Poor Girl” for 2000′s “Free The West Memphis 2″ benefit album (which Doe also appears on).
More Info: http://www.theejohndoe.com/home.html

Glen Hansard
Where & When: stage two, 3:50-4:40pm
Who Are You?: Irish singer/songwriter extraordinaire, one half of Swell Season, frontman for the Frames, Oscar winner!
Pearl Jam Connection: Didja catch Eddie’s solo tour this summer? We’re sure you heard Hansard’s fantastic opening set, as well as his beautiful duets with Eddie on songs like “Sleepless Nights,” just like their duet on Eddie’s album, “Ukulele Songs.”
More Info: http://www.theswellseason.com/ and http://www.theframes.ie

Liam Finn
Where & When: stage one, 3:10-3:50pm
Who Are You?: The son of Split Enz/Crowded House principal Neil Finn, Liam has been rocking in his own right since he was a teenager in Betchadupa a decade ago. Now multinstrumentalist Liam has several albums as a melodic-but-rocking solo artist under his belt, including 2008′s stellar “I’ll Be Lightning,” 2009′s “Live At The Wiltern,” and his must-hear current record “FOMO,” out this summer.
Pearl Jam Connection: Eddie Vedder and Liam Finn first shared a stage in 2001 when EV sang with Betchadupa during the Seven Worlds Collide project in New Zealand, since then Liam has been the opening act on two of Eddie’s solo tours (2008 and 2009), and if you hadn’t figured it out, Eddie is a fan.
More Info: http://www.liamfinn.tv/

Joseph Arthur
Where & When: stage two, 2:30-3:10pm
Who Are You?: Ohio singer-songwriter with over a decade of great records that ingeniously employ looping and other pedal effects so that what is one man is amplified as a whole band. You won’t be sad if you go out and grab his just-released new album, “The Graduation Ceremony.”
Pearl Jam Connection: Jeff Ament is a fan, listing Arthur as one of his 2009′ album “Come To Where I’m From” as one of his Top 25 of the 2000s.
More Info: http://www.josepharthur.com/

TheNewNo2
Where & When: stage one, 2-2:30pm
Who Are You?: London-based rock band formed in 2006 and notably featuring frontman/guitarist Dhani Harrison, who is not only the son of George Harrison, he was also heavily involved in the Beatles: Rock Band.
Pearl Jam Connection: None that we know. But do you need one?
More Info: http://thenewno2.com/

David Garza
Where & When: stage two, 1:30-2pm
Who Are You?: Austin, Texas singer-songwriter that infuses a bit of a cool countrified-plus-south-of-the-border feel into his straight ahead rock and who has recored too many albums to name here.
Pearl Jam Connection: If we’re playing six degrees of separation, I’ll note that Garza opened for Edie Brickell + New Bohemians circa 1989, a point at which that band had Matt Chamberlain for a drummer (yes, the same Matt Chamberlain who was Pearl Jam’s drummer for a hot second in 1991). If we’re NOT playing six degrees, I’ll note that Jeff Ament has been a big fan for over a decade, had Garza open Three Fish’s 1999 tour, and hopes to one day record with him.
More Info: http://www.davidgarza.com/

Jayson Lytle
Where & When: stage one, 1-1:30pm
Who Are You?: Former frontman of California synth-infused indie rock band Granddaddy, who got a ton of buzz circa 2000. Lytle kicked off his solo career with an album in 2009, “Yours Truly, The Commuter,” and he also rocks in a band called Admiral Radly.
Pearl Jam Connection: None that we know.
More Info: http://jasonlytle.com/

Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs
Where & When: stage two, 12:30-1pm
Who Are You?: A newish rock quintet from Ellensberg, WA led, as you might have guessed, by singer/songwriter Star Anna. Anna’s released albums going back to 2008.
Pearl Jam Connection: The group’s new album, “Alone In This Together” came out last month distributed by Pearl Jam’s Monkeywrench Records and features a notable guest on several tracks: Mr. Mike McCready. Mike, a big fan, has also tweeted and tumblr’d his love for the band openly all summer, and you’ll even find the album for sale on Pearl Jam.com
More Info: http://www.staranna.com

The Young Evils
Where & When: stage one, 12-12:30pm
Who Are You?: A folky-poppy rock outfit from West Seattle led by Troy Nelson (guitar/vocals) and Mackenzie Mercer, who have just released a new album, Enchanted Chapel. If the name Troy Nelson rings a bell, it might be that you’re from Seattle and are used to hearing him as a DJ on KEXP.
Pearl Jam Connection: Unknown, except we know Eddie’s all about West SEattle, especially Easy Street Records there.
More Info: http://theyoungevils.com

FAQs You Might Have Missed

There’s a ton of stuff mentioned on the PJ20.com site for the shows, but a few things caught our eye as things you might want to keep in mind:

  1. You can smoke on the lawn but NOT in the seats.
  2. They won’t let you bring binoculars.
  3. You’re welcome to record the show with a small handheld.
  4. Don’t try to park in the lot overnight, the venue will boot you out.
  5. Feel free to bring your toddlers (they are literally free under 3), but you can’t bring a stroller.

So are you ready now?

Whew. So yeah, there are a few details to work out. But most of all, bring your tickets, put on some sunblock, and have a great time. See you there!

Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media (Fuse.tv) and was previously managing editor of Billboard.com. She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

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