Eddie Vedder Plays Surprise Set With Family and Friends at Ohana Festival

·3-min read

Eddie Vedder wasn’t even planning on performing Friday night (Sept. 24) at his own Ohana Festival on the beach in Dana Point, Calif. — his solo set was scheduled for tomorrow, with Pearl Jam slated to close the event on Sunday.

But when headliners Kings of Leon canceled at the last minute to be with their ailing mother Betty Lou Murphy, who ultimately passed away Friday morning, the Pearl Jam frontman marshaled his new solo band to fill the slot and also showcased his first-ever performance with his 17-year-old daughter, Olivia.

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The 11-song set came on the heels of a similar private performance at the beachside festival site on Thursday evening for family and friends, and introduced the world to a new Vedder backing band: former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (who is also now a touring member of Pearl Jam), revered session bassist Pino Palladino, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, singer/songwriter Glen Hansard and guitarist Andrew Watt, who is producing tracks on Vedder’s upcoming solo album, “Earthling.”

“We’re kind of making it up here tonight,” said Vedder. With Pearl Jam founding members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament looking on from sidestage, the group put its own hard rocking spin on “Porch,” eased gently into “Long Road” and unleashed a near unrecognizable, punky version of “Corduroy” similar to the version Vedder played at a televised vaccine benefit this spring.

Vedder also paid tribute to the grieving Kings of Leon camp with a cover of that band’s “Molly’s Chambers,” which the musicians had learned just hours earlier (a cover of the Vaselines’ “Molly’s Lips,” later popularized by Nirvana, was also on the setlist but not played).

In another first, Olivia Vedder sang on stage as her dad watched proudly during “My Father’s Daughter,” which is featured on the soundtrack for the recently released Sean Penn film “Flag Day.” Hansard handled lead vocals on “Tender Mercies,” another standout from the “Flag Day” repertoire.

Olivia Vedder (Eddie Vedder’s daughter) performs with his band onstage during Ohana Fest at Doheny State Beach on September 24, 2021 in Dana Point, California. - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety
Olivia Vedder (Eddie Vedder’s daughter) performs with his band onstage during Ohana Fest at Doheny State Beach on September 24, 2021 in Dana Point, California. - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety

Karl Walter for Variety

To close the set, the group teased a portion of Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” but instead segued into a ripping version of the Pretenders’ “Precious.” For hardcore Pearl Jam historians, this choice was a nod to the fact that Vedder had tried in 1993 to offer “Better Man” to Pretenders’ frontwoman Chrissie Hynde to record for a charity album, but the session was not to be, and the song went on to become one of Pearl Jam’s most enduring and recognizable songs.

Vedder and company rehearsed for the first three days of the week to prepare for their planned set on Saturday, which sources say will feature a different set list than tonight’s impromptu performance.

Earlier in the day, the Ohana site was evacuated for more than an hour when a fast-approaching lightning storm soaked the area. Once the rain passed and the crowd returned, Black Pumas restored the vibes with soulful performances of tracks such as “Confines” and “Know You Better” from their 2019 self-titled debut.

Black Pumas - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety
Black Pumas - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety

Karl Walter for Variety

My Morning Jacket was next, and capitalized on an expanded set time to jam ferociously songs such as “Lay Low,” “Off the Record” and “Wasted,” the latter from the 2020 release “The Waterfall II.” The group, which has frequently shared bills with Pearl Jam in the past, will release its ninth studio album, a self-titled affair, on Oct. 22.

My Morning Jacket  - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety
My Morning Jacket - Credit: Karl Walter for Variety

Karl Walter for Variety

Ohana continues today with performances from Hansard, Maggie Rogers, Mac Demarco and Spoon. Pearl Jam will headline both nights of an “Encore” weekend of the festival on Oct. 1-2.

Eddie Vedder’s set list:

“Drive” (R.E.M.)
“Long Road” (Pearl Jam)
“Molly’s Chambers” (Kings Of Leon)
“Porch” (Pearl Jam)
“Long Way”
“Tender Mercies”
“My Father’s Daughter”
“I’m One” (The Who)
“Corduroy” (Pearl Jam)
“Precious” (Pretenders)
“Purple Rain” (Prince)

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