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Deluna Fest Recap: Pearl Jam holds it down on day 1

On the sandy shores of Pensacola Beach, DeLuna Fest’s jam-packed day 1 proved to be a huge success. While travel made us miss the early Fishbone set, Gaslight Anthem got our day of music started right.

The Jersey band’s Springsteen-meets-punk-rock style was a good way to get the energy flowing. Bringing Eddie Vedder out for an awesome cover version of “State of Love & Trust” was the icing on the cake. They ended with “The Patient Ferris Wheel” as the crowd migrated towards the Wind Creek Stage for Ben Folds Five.

Ben Folds Five sounds amazingly full live, despite only being a three-piece band. The effects on Robert Sledge’s bass guitar really complement Ben’s virtuosic piano skills. The trio sang through “Brick” and “Army” as the sun set on Pensacola Beach.

Meanwhile, on the Heritage Stage, the Hot 8 Brass Band was kicking things up a notch with their thick New Orleans funk sound. Covers of The Champs’ “Tequila” and Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” had a small crowd dancing from light to dark.

Dumpstaphunk continued the funk vibe on the Heritage Stage with covers of David Bowie’s “Fame” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Vibrant Thing” cover. The dance party attracted a bigger crowd, but it was clear most of Friday’s attendees were getting ready for the 2+ hour rock spectacle of Pearl Jam.

Appropriately starting with “Oceans”, Eddie Vedder and company started banging out the fan favorites early. “Corduroy” would follow and being a massive Pearl Jam fan, I was in heaven.  The crew sound unbelievable and Vedder’s crowd command is second to none. They would end the main set at 11pm, with”Porch”. And with 45 minutes left, they vacated the stage for their first encore.

Coming out with “Black” was the greatest thing they could have done for the hungry crowd. They would go in to “Comatose”, “Why Go” and “Rearviewmirror” before leaving the stage again before a second encore. The carefully planned breaks is just another reason why Pearl Jam is one of the world’s greatest bands. They know just when to leave you wanting more and knowing how to give it to you.

For the final encore, PJ came out and did “Better Man”, “Lukin”, “Alive”, “Baba O’Riley” (the Who Cover) and “Yellow Ledbetter”. As if that wasn’t enough, just as a shirtless male stormed his way to the front with an American flag, guitarist Mike McCready went in to a shredding “Star-Spangled Banner” outro. McCready had been wowing the audience the entire night with his mind-bending, extended solos.

The band bowed out and the crowd walked out as DJ Jazzy Jeff started dropping some bass bombs on the Wind Creek Stage. Jeff’s blend of hip-hop, trap and dubstep made for an interesting dance party despite the smaller crowd. He definitely attracted some younger attendees on their way out by playing a variety of bangers by Baauer and Skrillex. Later he would mix in a nice reggae selection before a handful of hip-hop classics.

With day 2 housing Jimmy Cliff, Band of Horses, Bad Brains, Foo Fighters, Paper Diamond and Diplo, it’s safe to say that we’re not slowing down.

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