Teen Fills In for Pearl Jam Drummer Out with COVID

teenager drums at Pearl Jam concert mfc172/YouTube
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Kai Neukermans is getting ready to graduate next month, but first, he had one big thing to check off his bucket list: play with Pearl Jam. The 18-year-old’s dream came true this past weekend when the band’s drummer, Matt Cameron, unfortunately tested positive for COVID. So Neukermans made his move.

The high school senior happens to know Eddie Vedder’s daughter, Olivia, and thanks to her, he found out the band was taking submissions for substitutes for the upcoming show at the Oakland Arena. Like any soon-to-be graduating senior, he had an important decision to make. “I had a statistics test in my next period class, which I’m not doing very well in, but I’m sure they’ll let me take it next week,” Neukermans told SF Gate.

It appears the decision to practice with his drum teacher paid off, because the teen was given the opportunity of a lifetime when Vedder announced he would be subbing for Cameron, playing “Mind Your Manners.” In a video of the concert, Vedder says, “He hasn’t graduated high school yet. This is the year, right?”

After the singer pushed Neukermans toward the drum kit and he was handed a pair of sticks, the band was off and running. It took just over three minutes for the teenager’s dream to come true, but he played like he was one of the gang for the past few decades.

When it was all over, Vedder raised up the high school senior’s hand and had him take a bow. “That’s Kai right there!”

Later, Neukermans shared the experience on his own Instagram, with the caption, “Another unexcused absence at school on Friday. Busy getting ready for this!” Sometimes sacrifices must be made, after all.

In the meantime, the teen is headed back to high school to finish out his senior year and attend graduation. After that, he and his band, The Alive, plan to record some new songs and release an EP, according to SF Gate. With a gig playing for Pearl Jam under his belt, we’re guessing Kai is going places.

In the meantime, we hope Eddie Vedder wrote him the most epic excuse note.

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