Mill Valley teen drummer sits in with Pearl Jam at Oakland Arena show

Mill Valley teen drummer sits in with Pearl Jam at Oakland Arena show

Teen drummer Kai Neukermans had counted off the beat for many songs before, his drum sticks leading into fierce covers of bands including Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age.

But this time it wasn’t his younger brother and a friend at guitar, bass and mike. Seated at the drum kit, the 18-year-old from Mill Valley stared back at none other than Eddie Vedder and the rest of popular grunge band Pearl Jam. Plus a crowd of fans in the nearly 20,000-seat Oakland Arena.

“Everybody this is Kai; Kai this is everybody!” frontman Vedder called out to the cheering crowd.

Four beats from Neukermans, and they were off. He had led them into an explosive rendition of “Mind Your Manners” from the group’s 2013 “Lightning Bolt” album. Vedder leaned over and screamed into the microphone, chugged from a bottle of red wine and pumped his fist as the audience sang along.

Neukermans had missed a statistics test to get to this moment.

Spin back about 24 hours to get to the unlikely series of events that led this Tamalpais High School senior to share Friday night’s stage with one of the most steadfast bands still kicking from Seattle’s grunge movement.

Neukermans is not just any teen drummer; he’s one-third of the hard-charging teen rock group the Alive, a band “launched between surf and skate sessions in 2018,” as their web bio explains. They’ve played significant stages, from the BottleRock Napa Valley main stage to Lollapalooza Chile and Boardmasters in England. His 14-year-old brother, Manoa Neukermans, plays bass, and their friend Bastian Evans, 17, of Laguna Beach (Orange County) handles guitar and vocals.


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