“I thought we’d raise 50 bucks or something,” Sheffer said.
He started the crowd fund on November 5, and a little over two months later, he has raised over $110,000.
“I’ve never done something like this, I’m just amazed,” the self-described “die-hard Pearl Jam fan” said.
The success of the campaign led Sheffer to host a fundraising event at Austin Ale House, where he and his friends raised money both to bring the band to Forest Hills and to donate to charities with ties to the band.
With live music, a Pearl Jam merchandise table and plenty of sponsorship from local breweries, the night was a big hit. Sheffer said that early numbers showed they raised $5,000 for the concert and another $500 in cash for charity.
For many, the night was also a chance to connect with other big-time Pearl Jam fans.
John Perotti, who lived in Kew Gardens for about seven years before moving out to Long Island, found out about the event on Twitter and came out to pledge for two tickets to the show.
Perotti saw his first Pearl Jam concert in 2003 with his then 12-year-old son, and he said ever since they see the band whenever it plays in the area. He also took his first road trip last year to catch the band in Tulsa, Lincoln and Memphis.
But despite the fact that he’s a regular at Pearl Jam concerts, and even sports a Pearl Jam tattoo on his right arm, Perotti said on a scale of one to ten, he still does not compare to other fans he has met.
“I’ve only been to ten shows,” Perotti said. “I’ve met people who have been to 70 or 80, so on a scale of one to ten, I thought I was up there, like a nine, but I’m not.”
Sheffer, on the other hand, has been to 20 shows and is anxious to bring Pearl Jam to Forest Hills for his next one.
He said that no actual logistics have been worked out with the band or the venue, but that no one has said “no” yet.
“We’ve talked to Pearl Jam’s management, to their PR, to their fan club,” Sheffer explained. “They love our enthusiasm and they haven’t shut us down yet. I talked to them back in November and they said to check in in the new year.”
According to Sheffer, Pearl Jam’s booking agent estimated that it can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million to get Pearl Jam to perform.
But that does not seem to put a damper on Sheffer’s campaign. He said right now people are pledging money for tickets for the theoretical show, and they “hope something will happen.”
“The first time I saw Pearl Jam was on TV,” he said. “I lived in Forest Hills with my dad and we were watching Saturday Night Live. Just something about it, it blew my mind, and it still does 25 years later.”