6 reasons to check out (and 6 reasons to avoid) Pearl Jam’s Labor Day weekend concert at Alpine Valley
Last week, Pearl Jam announced a 20th anniversary, Labor Day weekend festival at good ol’ Alpine Valley. If you’re like most modern festival-goers, your reaction was, “Wait, Pearl Jam is still a band?” Then you remembered you had already booked a campsite “up North” for that weekend, and you had already picked up some tickets for Lollapalooza. (How many summer festivals are there, anyway?) To help you decide if you should give LiveTicketmasterNation more money in the name of a band who once told you never to give Ticketmaster more money, we’ve put together a handy list of potential pros and cons of PJ20.
Go: Remember when Pearl Jam opened for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at Summerfest back in 2006 and pretty much blew them off the stage? That was awesome. We’re not saying PJ is always amazing live, but when the band is on, it’s one of the best in the biz.
Why Go: Since 2006, the band has snubbed Wisconsin entirely, making a stop at Alpine Valley in ’03 the last time the band played a full show here. That was also the show where Eddie Vedder rock-star promised to return to Alpine the following summer. (What’s up with that?) Also, these will be the band’s first shows in over a year, meaning it might not be quite warmed up enough to gel as the powerhouse rock and roll unit it can be—particularly since drummer Matt Cameron has been busy working with his old band, Soundgarden, for some reason.
Go: After all these years, Alpine finally got a permit from Walworth County to allow onsite camping. That means you can stumble back to your car at midnight like usual and avoid the tunnel of flashlight-wielding police officers that guard the exits.
Why Go: Oops, we’re sorry: Inexplicably, even though camping has been approved for the venue, there will be no camping allowed for this festival. That makes sense.
Go: For $60 a day, you can take a convenient shuttle from Milwaukee or Chicago to and from the venue, thereby nullifying your chances of getting a DUI and allowing you to sleep in your own bed every night. Plus, there’s the camaraderie of dozens of drunk, middle-aged frat boys reliving their glory days by distracting the bus driver and hitting on your wife.
Why Go: Head over to the PJ20 website. Click on “Local Information.” There, you’ll find a nice list of attractions and things to do... in Chicago. Because as we all know, most of Wisconsin is merely a suburb of the Windy City, and there’s nothing whatsoever to do in Milwaukee. Snubbed again.
Go: Two bucks from every ticket sold goes to the Vitalogy Foundation, which basically means the PJ people handpick whatever nonprofit organization they feel like and give it that money.
Why Go: About $40 from each weekend pass goes to Live Nation.
Go: At about $140 for a general-admission lawn ticket ($220 for reserved pavilion seats), it’s a relatively affordable weekend of music, especially considering you get a set per night from New York garage-pop saviors The Strokes, stoner-rock heroes Queens Of The Stone Age, grunge icon Mudhoney, one half of The Swell Season, and George Harrison’s kid’s band (Thenewno2). You’d pay more than that for a pair of Vedder solo ukulele shows these days.
Why Go: On the other hand, when you crunch the numbers with other nearby summer festivals, this one seems a little overpriced. PJ20 breaks down at about 11 bucks per artist, half of whom you’ve never heard of. And don’t forget about the $8-12 you’ll pay per beer at Alpine. By contrast, Lollapalooza (where any ticket means you can get as close to the stage as you want) charges you about $1.80 per artist at maximum price, as does the Summer Camp festival. (And that one includes camping.) Plus, at PJ20, you’re paying to see the exact same lineup two days in a row. Do you really need two nights of The Strokes ripping off Iggy Pop for an hour?
Go: After all is said and done, there’s no place like Alpine Valley, which doesn’t seem to have much else going for it this year. (No, Jimmy Buffett doesn’t count.) It wouldn’t feel like summer if you didn’t get out there at least once, would it? Besides, Pearl Jam owes us a couple of great shows, and the band has a reputation for doing extraordinary things at special shows. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event no matter how you look at it.
Why Go: Did we mention beers are $8-12 apiece? Watch your step on that steep lawn, alternative nation.