Emerging as one of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, Pearl Jam took their alternative vision of the genre and blended it with garage rock to emphatic effect, becoming one of the biggest bands in the world in the process. But, as with every rock behemoth, Pearl Jam had to start somewhere.
Born after Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament’s previous band Mother Love Bone announced their split, Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron all left their other musical projects to join forces on Pearl Jam. It would be a landmark choice. The group would go on to become one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time.
With more than 85 million records sold worldwide, the Seattle-based band burst into the mainstream music world following the release of their debut album, Ten, and didn’t look back. With their eleventh studio album as a band, Gigaton arriving this year, they once again proved they were capable of delivering. Pearl Jam continues to push the boundaries of their artistic scope, even 30 years after their debut.
When asked about Pearl Jam’s legacy Vedder said: “I think at some point along the way we began feeling we wanted to give people something to believe in because we all had bands that gave that to us when we needed something to believe in,” as part of an interview that took place in 2000.
“That was the big challenge for us after the first record and the response to it. The goal immediately became how do we continue to be musicians and grow and survive in view of all this… The answers weren’t always easy, but I think we found a way.”
However, even for Rock and Roll Hall of Famers like Pearl Jam, it all had to start somewhere. With a bag full of new songs, Vedder and the band headed to Seattle’s Off Ramp Cafe on October 22nd, 1990, to perform their first-ever live show.
“It was our first gig. We’re proud of that. We’re proud to still be together. We’re proud to be in a long relationship,” Pearl Jam lead singer Vedder said on reflection.
Playing a seven-song setlist with ‘Just a Girl’ as the encore, watch Pearl Jam’s debut show, below.
Pearl Jam Setlist, 1990
– ‘Even Flow’
– ‘Just a Girl’