Today, Pearl Jam is one of the most notable and beloved live bands in the world. Over the course of nearly three decades of relentless touring and prolific studio output, the band has earned themselves a die-hard worldwide following. The most impassioned Pearl Jam fans know that the essence of the band can only truly be gleaned from their famously electric live shows, known to consistently push past three hours of grunge-rock mastery.
But on this day in 1990, Pearl Jam wasn’t a worldwide sensation. On this day in 1990, Pearl Jam wasn’t even “Pearl Jam” yet. They were an upstart grunge band called Mookie Blaylock, getting ready to play their first-ever live show at the Off Ramp Cafe, a 300-ish capacity Seattle club, where they would share the bill with Inspector Luv and the Ride Me Babies (who later became Green Apple Quickstep), and a band called Bathtub Gin (which we can only assume was a local Phish cover band). The band would deliver a heavily distorted, energetically raw and impassioned set to an audience said to have included members of Soundgarden (with whom several PJ members had collaborated for Temple of the Dog) and Hall of Fame Seattle Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson. In addition to encore “Just A Girl,” which was played just one more time after that in the band’s history, the set featured several of the songs that would end up on their lauded debut album, Ten, the following year. By the time Ten was released, the band had officially dropped their original moniker (a nod to then-active basketball player Mookie Blaylock) and gone with “Pearl Jam,” the household name now known by millions.
As vocalist Eddie Vedder said onstage during an October 22nd concert back in 2014, on this day in 1990 “ 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.” We’re glad you all are still together too, EV!
Below, you can watch footage of Mookie Blaylock’s (a.k.a. Pearl Jam’s) fateful first show at The Off Ramp Cafe in Seattle, courtesy of YouTube user arsanmar:
Mookie Blaylock (Pearl Jam) – 10/22/1990 (first show ever)
Setlist: Mookie Blaylock | Off Ramp Cafe | Seattle, WA | 10/22/90
Soundcheck: Even Flow
Set: Release, Alone, Alive, Once, Even Flow, Black, Breath
Encore: Just A Girl
NOTES: ‘Even Flow’ is a very unusual, slow version. In fact, most of these songs sound very different and are slower versions, with ‘Release,’ ‘Once’ and ‘Black’ sporting different/early lyrics. ‘Just A Girl’ hasn’t appeared on a setlist since this show.