Typically, when the world’s biggest rock bands headline a festival supporting new music, fans get a compilation of the biggest hits that comes to life with dashes of new material sprinkled among. the proven favorites.
But Pearl Jam is not a typical rock band and Ohana is not a typical festival.
The long-rooted Seattle juggernaut wrapped up the first weekend of the three-day festival, hosted by frontman Eddie Vedder, at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point on Sunday, September 26. Pearl Jam’s first four songs (and five of the first six) were released from the band’s latest album “Gigaton”, which was released in March 2020, just days after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the concert industry. live, which undermined the band’s extensive touring plans.
In the early songs, Vedder recognized the peculiarity of playing “new” music recorded two years ago while speaking to audiences.
And while Vedder is generally known for crowd-speaking, the Ohana Beach setup has provided unique privacy for a group that normally sells giant stadiums and arenas and makes headlines at huge European festivals. In the crowd, fans shared stories about seeing them at Wrigley Field in Chicago and some sports shirts from the Sea.Hear.Now festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey the previous weekend, the first full live performance of Pearl Jam in three years.
The smaller (but still full) cadre of dedicated fans keen to see the band in one of their only shows of 2021 was a breeding ground for “Gigaton” songs such as “Retrograde,” “Dance of the Clairvoyants “,” Quick Escape “and” Seven O’Clock “opened the scene. Pearl Jam changed course to play a catchy rendition of the mid-90s hit” Corduroy “before releasing another new song, “Alright”, and then played the punk “Superblood Wolfmoon” for a total of six “Gigaton” songs.
Even the older material featured plenty of deep cuts, such as 1994’s “Immortality” from “Vitalogy” and 1996’s “Red Mosquito” “No Code”, the latter featuring photographer Danny Clinch on harmonica.
Other highlights of the ensemble included “Even Flow,” a feature of Pearl Jam’s live performance allowing lead guitarist Mike McCready to create a jam that makes each performance of one of the band’s early hits as unique as it is. a snowflake, and a performance of âBlackâ in the encore, it was as haunting as it was when it was released 30 years ago.
But the highlight of the set was when Brandi Carlile joined the band on “Better Man”, another of the band’s hits on “Vitalogy”. One of Vedder’s most powerful vocal performances, Carlile’s harmonious counterpoint raised alternative rock success to a creepy level.
Ahead of its release, Vedder cited Carlile’s admiring description of Sunday’s female performer list as “power sluts.”
And that was another place where Ohana felt very different from other festivals, beyond its laid-back setting by the surf and the feeling that most of the fans were in there rather than looking behind a screen: some of the women. more dynamic music dominated the stage for hours before Pearl Jam closed the show. And there were women of color. To say it’s a breath of fresh ocean air into the world of predominantly white male festivals is an understatement.
Chilean singer Mon Laferte gave a performance that celebrated her sultry voice, but also relied on solid guitar work, sometimes pedals that winked at the surf sound created in neighboring dance halls. It was followed by a catchy set from Englishman Jade Bird, whose songs ranged from rock to roots and had a quality that made you want to sing before you knew the lyrics. And Sharon Van Etten’s performance brought a Siouxsie Sioux / new wave vibe to the evening.
But the star to watch is Yola and as good as the British singer is (and you should really check out her recordings), she took her to another stratosphere live, with an incredible voice. In addition to bringing out Brandi Carlile for “Be My Friend”, she also asked multi-instrumentalist Celisse Henderson to join her on stage. Among the most impressive exploits of Yola’s set was a touching cover of Elton John’s âGoodbye Yellow Brick Roadâ.
Equally powerful was Carlile’s own set, which performed on Ohana’s main stage just before Pearl Jam, which opened with a nod to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” before entering. in Carlile’s song “Dreams”. She also performed a new song, “You and Me on the Rock”, which she said was very inspired by Joni Mitchell. She didn’t lie.
Carlile also brought Yola and Henderson on stage to join her on “Raise Hell”.
“It’s just all the vibes I could have hoped for tonight,” Carlile told the crowd towards the end of her set, which she closed with Pearl Jam’s McCready and drummer Matt Cameron for a cover of “Searching. with My Good Eye Closed âby Soundgarden.
Carlile will be back next weekend for the Ohana Encore. The scaled-down version of Ohana takes place on October 1 and 2 with Pearl Jam leading the two nights. Beck, Lord Huron and ZZ Ward are among the performers on Friday, while Carlile, Sleater-Kinney, Margo Price and Amythyst Kiah are among the performers who will perform on Saturday.
With such a strong lineup, the vibes Carlile mentioned should be just as good next weekend, hopefully the bizarre thunderstorms that delayed opening day for the first weekend.
If you are going to
When: Ohana Encore is from October 1 to 2.
Or: Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point
COVID-19 Information: All spectators must present full proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours of the event to enter.
Tickets: Ohana Encore general admission passes cost $ 138.50 for one day and $ 275 for both days.