BY ROSS BELSKY
On Thursday the fanatics from Pearl Jam Forest Hills hosted their long-awaited fundraiser at Austin’s Ale House in Kew Gardens, hoping to add to the $107,000 they’ve already collected to convince Eddie Vedder and the band to play at Forest Hills Stadium.
The group has been raising money through tilt.com, a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter. Of the 450 backers on Tilt, over a hundred jammed out to a Pearl Jam cover band called Last Exit at the Ale House.
About 150 people of all ages sang along to every word with Last Exit. There were roars at the recognition of each song’s first note, and fist pumping on cue with dramatic drumbeats.
“We want to cement Forest Hills Stadium as legendary,” said the group’s founder, Daniel Sheffer. “It is an intimate venue and in our backyards, so the fans would hypothetically have a cathartic experience.” The stadium, which once hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, has been upgraded with $3 million in modern amenities since 2013.
Through social media, the group’s efforts have also benefited several charitable organizations, such as Wounded Warrior, the National Kidney Foundation, and Pearl Jam’s own nonprofit Vitalogy Foundation. At the Ale House fundraiser alone, with incentives like band stickers and posters, hundreds of dollars were donated to charities.
Albert Lee, who worked closely with Sheffer in preparation for the event, created a motivational video that says, “This one’s for the band, the fans, the crew, the world.”
“We had no specific goal in terms of money raised,” Lee said at the fundraiser. “But this is more about the noise and publicity of the cause. We try to stay humble, but if Pearl Jam does play here, it will hit me heavy and take me to a higher place.”