A California high school student rocked out on the drums for the iconic grunge band Pearl Jam Friday night after the band’s drummer came down with coronavirus, KGO reports.
When legendary Pearl Jam and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron fell ill with the Wuhan coronavirus, 18-year-old Kai Neukermans of Mill Valley figured the band needed a drummer for their concert at the Oakland Arena, according to the outlet. He reached out to his acquaintance Olivia Vedder, the daughter of Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, to see if he could fill in on the sticks.
“I went to bed and forgot about it,” he explained. “And the next day I went to school and in the middle of class Olivia texted me to send her a video of me playing a Pearl Jam song because they were taking submissions.”
Before he knew it, Neukermans – who drums in a band called The Alive with his friend and younger brother – was leaving school for the day with his music teacher so the pair could get a demo ready for Pearl Jam, according to KGO.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
He sent Olivia Vedder a video of him playing over the track. Within the hour he was in touch with a manager who told him to come to the stadium. Pearl Jam had tapped longtime collaborators Josh Klinghoffer, formerly with Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Oakland musician Richard Stuverud to sit in for Cameron for most of the night. Neukermans would play one song partway through the first set.
“My heart started beating really fast,” he told KGO. “I called my dad and he said he nearly had a heart attack.”
Once Neukermans got to the stadium, it was time for rehearsals and to go through the band’s sets for the evening, according to the Chronicle.
“They were having so much fun,” said the drummer.
In short order, Vedder was introducing him on stage to the Pearl Jam fans in attendance.
“Please welcome to the stage, Mill Valley’s own Kai Neukermans!” Vedder said in a video of the performance, posted on Youtube by user mfc172, as the teen walked on stage, absorbing the moment in awe.
“We’re ready when you are. You’re leading the band, brother,” Vedder said as the teen counted off the beat with his sticks. They played “Mind Your Manners,” the second track from the band’s 2013 album Lightning Bolt, and once the performance ended, Vedder took the teen to the front of the stage, where they bowed together.