Watch a High School Kid Play Drums With Pearl Jam Live Onstage
Pearl Jam are continuing to tap special guest drummers while Matt Cameron remains sidelined with COVID as the grunge icons carry on with their headlining tour. The latest was an 18-year-old high school student, came away with the story of a lifetime after getting an opportunity to play with the band onstage in front of a massive audience.
On May 12, Cameron missed his first show with Pearl Jam in 24 years while touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Fastbacks and Jeff Ament collaborator Richard Stuverud and a fan, who was plucked from the crowd, all helped the group bring the show to completion.
The following day, at the second consecutive night at the Oakland Arena in Oakland, California, Pearl Jam got some assistance from Kai Neukermans. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, he's a Mill Valley High student who plays in the band The Alive and the moment was not at all too big for him to take in — after all, his own band had previously played at the main stage at the BottleRock Festival as well as at Lollapalooza in Chile.
Still, sitting in with Pearl Jam and occupying the seat of a living legend is no easy feat, especially with around 20,000 onlookers judging your every move. Neukermans made the best of his opportunity and anchored the group on the lone Lightning Bolt cut of the night — "Mind Your Manners."
Watch fan-shot video of the performance further down the page.
As for how Neukermans even made it onstage in the first place, it's quite the compelling story.
In 2018, he met Olivia Vedder, daughter of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, at the Ohana Fest, the festival which was founded by the legendary singer. Upon hearing from friends and family on May 12 that Cameron was out with COVID, he was encouraged to get in touch with Olivia with a request to fill-in for the ailing skinsman.
In response, the band asked to see a video of him playing drums. So, he did what any teenager would do — he skipped out of school part-way through the day and even bailed on a statistics test to cut a video for Pearl Jam to see. He even had the blessing of his parents to cut class. Evidently, his chops were deemed up to snuff and the band's tour manager instructed him to arrive at the venue early to rehearse with the grunge icons.
That alone is quite impressive, but it got even sweeter when Vedder introduced Neukermans onstage and told the crowd he had seen The Alive play and was impressed by their abilities.
Pearl Jam have to dates left on the May leg of their U.S. tour and the next North American run is set to begin in September. See the upcoming dates here.