Pearl Jam gig saved by teen as band’s drummer gets COVID-19

Legendary rock band Pearl Jam enlisted the help of a teenage fan to get them through their Oakland show after the group’s drummer fell ill with COVID-19.

After learning that the band’s regular drummer Matt Cameron was unable to make it, 18-year-old Kai Neukermans decided to take matters into his own hands.

The teen couldn’t believe his luck when he was invited up on stage Friday to perform the band’s hit track, “Mind Your Manners,” after bravely telling them he was up to the task.

“Everybody, this is Kai; Kai, this is everybody,” frontman Eddie Vedder introduced the high school student to the crowd in a video shared on the band’s YouTube channel. “You’re leading the band, brother.”

A local teenager filled in to play drums for Pearl Jam after their drummer tested positive for COVID-19.
A local teenager filled in to play drums for Pearl Jam after their drummer tested positive for COVID-19.
YouTube

Prior to sharing the stage with Pearl Jam at Oakland Arena in California, Kai and his brother, Manoa Neukermans, returned from watching the band perform in Los Angeles, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“It was a last-minute thing, and I didn’t think it was going to work out.”

Kai Neukermans

To get noticed by the four-time Grammy award-winning rockers, Kai texted Vedder’s daughter, Olivia Vedder, after finding her number on his phone following a 2018 encounter.

Olivia Vedder with Eddie Vedder.
Rocker Eddie Vedder with his daughter Olivia Vedder.
Instagram / @olivia.vedder

The teen — a senior at Mill Valley’s Tamalpais High School — offered to sit in on the drums for her father’s group.

“It was a last-minute thing, and I didn’t think it was going to work out,” he told the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Kai’s text got the ball rolling and was soon invited to send a video of him drumming along to a Pearl Jam track, which he admittedly skipped school to do.

Kai Neukermans plays drums with Pearl Jam at the Oakland Arena.
Kai Neukermans plays drums with Pearl Jam at the Oakland Arena.
Instagram / kai_neukermans

The aspiring musician recorded a video of himself playing along to “Mind Your Manners” from the group’s 2013 album, “Lightning Bolt.”

Within an hour, the band’s tour manager told him to come down to the stadium for a quick trial run.

“My heart started racing when everyone started screaming and my heart skipped a beat.”

Kai Neukermans

Even though the band already secured Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, and Oakland drummer, Richard Stuverud, to sit in for Cameron, they agreed to let Kai rock out to one song.

“My heart started racing when everyone started screaming and my heart skipped a beat,” the teen added.

Eddie Vedder introduces Kai Neukermans to the audience.
Eddie Vedder introduces Kai Neukermans to the audience.
YouTube
The setlist for Pearl Jam's show at the Oakland Arena.
The setlist for Pearl Jam’s show at the Oakland Arena.
Instagram / @pearljam

The teen’s brief stint on stage proved to be a success among 20,000 screaming fans, who couldn’t stop cheering for him.

“I tried to stay as focused as possible and watch the other band members and just tried not to look at the crowd because it was freaking me out,” he added.

Kai Neukermans performs onstage with Pearl Jam.
Kai Neukermans performs onstage with Pearl Jam.
YouTube
Kai Neukermans speaks with Eddie Vedder onstage.
Kai Neukermans speaks with Eddie Vedder onstage.
YouTube

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