Pearl Jam delivers new sounds and nostalgia in Sacramento

In a set filled with fresh new music, timeless hits, touching dedications, fitting awareness on social issues, and even a reference to a gruesome scene from a Quentin Tarantino classic, Pearl Jam delivered a memorable performance in Sacramento, California on Monday, May 13, 2024.

“In 30 plus years, we’ve only said these next three words like three times, but I’m glad we get to say it tonight… good evening, Sacramento,” Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder told the near-capacity crowd at the Golden 1 Center.

“I didn’t realize it was so rare to be here, but we’re feeling that it’s going to be special. We’ve got many friends here and it feels like that already includes all of you.”

Vedder added: “This gig was originally scheduled for a year ago, but the good news is we have a new record, more songs to play. COVID took us down pretty hard. Again, without delay, we thank you for your patience, thanks for being here, let’s have a great one.”

Playing their fourth show of the tour, promoting their recently released 12th studio album Dark Matter, the Seattle rockers began the Sacramento gig in a similar vein, playing a few of their older tunes, in this case ‘Pendulum’, ‘I’m Open’, ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In a Small Town’ and ‘Faithfull’, followed by the first four tracks from Dark Matter, ‘Scared Of Fear’, “React, Respond’, ‘Wreckage’ and the title track, ‘Dark Matter’.

Despite being brand new tunes, the band drove the tracks with a tightness and passion that already made the songs feel like mainstays and staples in their setlists.

Dynamic visuals

A first in the storied career for Pearl Jam, the band has brought a new level of artistic brilliance to their shows on the Dark Matter tour, as artist Rob Sheridan has designed and created the tour’s stage visuals.


The captivating imagery was eye-popping and jaw-dropping in Sacramento on Monday, as Sheridan’s massive designs matched the bands out of this world playing, particularly on the new songs.

“I haven’t worked in tour production/design since NIN 2014, but I always said I would go back to it one day if the right artist and the right creative connection came around,” Sheridan posted on social media earlier this month.

“There’s a short list of musicians I’d drop everything and rewire a year of my family’s entire life to make art with, and Eddie Vedder is absolutely one of them. Ed and I hit it off immediately and discussed an inspiring, experimental approach to creating textural video art inspired by the “Dark Matter” theme using decidedly tactile and analog methods, with the album’s light-painted artwork as a jumping off point.”

Sheridan added: “Steph, who produced the project, set up a raw studio space here in Tacoma and assembled a lean local camera crew, and we spent two months filming in the experimental, open-ended, DIY style that I like to work. With macro lenses and the 1000fps Ember slow-motion camera, we followed paths of inspiration through elements and states of matter: Light refractions, chemical reactions, fluid dynamics, incandescent projections and other experimental setups tracing the connective tissue of the universe. It was prolific and intense, and wouldn’t have been possible without Steph’s rapid problem-solving and a talented camera, animation, and post-prod team.”

Learn more about Sheridan on his website,

Reminiscing about The Cattle Club

Eddie Vedder / Pearl Jam | SWOMP Photo

Always putting a personal touch to their shows, the Sacto performance was no different.

Vedder told the crowd they first played California’s capital city over 30-years ago.

“When you talk about these little clubs we used to play, 95 per cent of the time the club has been long gone, but it’s very exciting to say that the place that we played 33 and a third years ago, is still erect, still standing, still existing, still thriving. It was called The Cattle Club,” Vedder said.

“We were a little band with a shitty name called Mookie Blaylock. We love Mookie. The band we opened for, Mike McCready has always wanted to play this song, the band we opened for was the great Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains.”

Guitarist Mike McCready proceeded to play a few chords from Alice In Chains, with drummer Matt Cameron playing a quick beat and Vedder singing one line from Alice In Chains’ ‘Man In The Box’, although he replaced it with: “I’m the man wearing Crocs”, which drew some laughter from the crowd.

Don’t fuck with Mr. Pink

Never one to shy away from standing up for injustices, Vedder referenced an infamous and grisly scene from Quentin Tarantino’s debut film Reservoir Dogs, when describing a recent news story he read.

“The daily news is so disturbing on every level, there are some complex issues, but this one was just basic insanity,” Vedder said.

“You know Steve Bushemi, the actor… he was just punched randomly while walking down the street in New York City. Who the fuck does that to Steve Bushemi?”

Vedder added: “That’s Mr. Pink, you don’t want to be hitting Mr. Pink. He knows people who will cut your ear off and fuck you up. So I hope they find him. Not only is he a great actor, but he’s a great person, he’s a great Dad, on 9/11, because he used to be a firefighter, he put on his fucking equipment and was down there at Ground Zero, this is this guy. I mean hit me, don’t hit him. If one of his ear cutting friends don’t find this guy, karma will and it won’t be pretty, motherfucker.”

After this story, Vedder and his bandmates fittingly tore into the quick, angry and powerful track ‘Lukin’, from their 1996 album No Code.

Happy birthday, Stevie + RIP, Tom

In the first dedication of the evening, Vedder celebrated a fellow musician, who happened to inspire a track from Pearl Jam’s new album.

“We weren’t going to play this one until we realized that today is the unbelievable, one-of-a-kind, truly magnificent, magical Mr. Stevie Wonder… it’s his birthday today. Happy birthday, Stevie. 74,” Vedder said, before leading a sing-along of ‘Happy Birthday’ with the audience.

The band proceeded to play ‘Waiting For Stevie’, the 7th track from Dark Matter, which they had just debuted a few nights earlier at their show in Portland, Oregon.

In a more somber dedication shortly after, Vedder dedicated the song ‘Light Years’ to Tom Pugh, the founder of the organization Given To Live, who died suddenly last month.

“We got the news that we lost a really great human recently and unexpectedly about a month ago,” Vedder said.

Mike McCready / Pearl Jam | SWOMP Photo

“The way we knew of him, there was a thing he self started on his own and it was Given To Live. He came up with this idea of if people had an issue, a health issue, he sought them out and if you liked our band, he was going to get you into the show, he was going to take care of you, he was going to make sure you had wheelchair access.”

Vedder added: “He did this for a number of years, all on his own. He was a tireless fundraiser. A really, really, incredibly powerful energy this guy had. It was a shock to lose him. There was a lot of people that were affected and hurt by this loss. He meant so much to so many. He’s got a fiancé, Eva, and I just want to wish her the best and I’m not sure if there is any way we could, obviously he was irreplaceable, but I hope in his name we can somehow keep this program going. He invented something incredibly special. We hope that it can live on. Tom, we love you and we miss you already.”

Follow the organization on Facebook, here.

Overhead projector notes

After a full 18-song first set, the band went off stage for their typical encore break.

A few minutes later, with the majority of packed crowd still on their feet, the massive screen behind the stage displayed an image coming from an old school overhead projector – another display of Sheridan’s artistic touches.

Vedder, who had snuck to the back of the stage, began writing on the projector and sharing some messages to the crowd.

In his message, Vedder proceeded to ask “Sacto” how they were doing, asking the crowd if they had any requests and telling them to text them over to him.

He started writing out a phone number, before he wrote “fuck, I forgot” before quickly rubbing the number off of the screen, drawing a roar of laughter from the audience.

Always an activist at heart, Vedder then wrote: “How about this request? More laws regarding access to guns and gun safety… and less laws regarding women’s bodies.”

Long lasting bonds

After his written banter with the crowd, Vedder moved to the front of the stage by himself to begin the band’s encore set.

“We agree it’s one of the favorite arenas we’ve played,” Vedder told the audience.

“You feel close enough to feel close. Then again, it just might be your energy as well. We’re very grateful. Thank-you so much for everything.”

Vedder dedicated the next song, a solo cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Picture In A Frame, which Pearl Jam has only played six times in their career (according to the amazing crew at PJStatTracker), to family friends, Margaret and her fiancé, Daniel, who are set to get married in the coming weeks.

“She was helping my wife Jill and I, she was a real standup human and helped us take care of two wild girls,” Vedder said.

“She had to leave us a year and a half, two years ago, but for good reason because her family is here, her future husband, they decided to come back to their home of Sacramento. So we lost them, but you got ‘em.”

The rest of the band joined Vedder on stage next, as they traveled back to 1991, with songs from their debut album 1991’s Ten dominating the remainder of the encore.

Vedder kept the loving theme going, telling the crowd “since we’re talking about love and long relationships and commitment and stability and long lasting bonds.

“We are all very fortunate that we found four other men, that weren’t afraid of commitment. We’ve been in this group for 33 plus years, with your support and purpose that you give us, but even more impressive, (guitarist, Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament), those two have been working together for 40 years.”

The crowd proceeded to give a thunderous ovation, as Gossard and Ament shared an embrace on stage.

In typical fashion, the house lights came on in the arena during ‘Alive’, which tends to signify the looming conclusion of their set.

Vedder proceeded to do a few more shout outs, including: keyboardist Boom Gaspar’s brother being in attendance, the opening band from Seattle, Deep Sea Diver, the band’s sound engineer Kerry Keyes, whose daughter recently graduated from university, a few other friends, and Vedder’s Uncle Freddie, who could be seen in the GA area of the arena.

“He took me to some of my first concerts, he might’ve gotten me stoned for the first time, when I was six,” Vedder said jokingly .

“That’s just who Uncle Freddie is, he’s like ‘hey, he’s going to smoke it someday.’ But that’s okay. When he had his own kids he waited until they were 12.”

Vedder asked the audience if they wanted to hear one more song, before the band tore into ‘Porch’.

“Sacramento, thank you so much for bringing it tonight,” Vedder told the crowd.

With some fans starting to head toward the exits, Vedder introduced the band once more, before the house lights went dark again and the backdrop began showing a prominent image of a sun.

As a surprise finish, the band played ‘Setting Sun,’ the final track from their new album, before concluding their two-and-a-half-hour-long performance.

“We love you… goodnight,” Vedder added, before the band walked off stage.

Here are some more SWOMP images from the Pearl Jam show, including of the opening band, Deep Sea Diver:

Here is the full setlist from the Sacramento show:

Pearl Jam, X

Here is the show poster and information about the artist:

Pearl Jam, X
Pearl Jam, X

Pearl Jam continues their Dark Matter tour on Thursday, May 16, 2024 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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