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

Teenage drummer Kai Neukermans had already counted on the beat for many songs, his drumsticks led to fierce covers of bands such as Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age.

But this time it was not his younger brother and a friend on guitar, bass and microphone. Sitting on the drums, the 18-year-old from Mill Valley stared back at none other than Eddie Vedder and the rest of the popular grunge band Pearl Jam. Plus a crowd of fans at the nearly 20,000-seat Oakland Arena.

“Everyone, this is Kai; Kai, this is everyone!” shouted frontman Vedder to the cheering crowd.

Four seconds from Neukermans, and they were gone. He led them to an explosive rendition of “Mind Your Manners” from the group’s 2013 album “Lightning Bolt”. Vedder leaned over and screamed into the microphone, slurped from a bottle of red wine and clenched his fist as the crowd sang along.

Neukermans had missed a statistical test to arrive at this moment.

Turn back about 24 hours to get to the unlikely chain of events that led this Tamalpais High School senior to share Friday night’s stage with one of the most steadfast bands still getting a kick out of Seattle’s grunge movement.

Neukermans is not just any teenage drummer; he’s one-third of the hard-charging teen rock group The Alive, a band that “launched in 2018 between surf and skate sessions,” as their web bio explains. They have played major 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, from Laguna Beach, Orange County, plays guitar and vocals.

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