It’s a story that sounds straight out of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy: Back in 1993, while performing a show with Pearl Jam in Utrecht, Eddie Vedder met a Dutch woman named Valeska Custers. They met up at a cafe following the concert and talked until 3am, at which point Custers drove Vedder back to his hotel on her brother’s bicycle.
This past weekend while performing in Amsterdam, Vedder paused the gig to reflect on the memorable evening and ask if Custers happened to be in the crowd. “I remember her hair kept flinging against my face, Vedder recounted. “I am almost certain that I would still recognize her face.”
While Custers was not in attendance for the show, she later learned of Vedder’s comments from a Dutch newspaper reporter who tracked her down. Custers shared her memories of the evening in an interview with Het Partool; she actually did not go to the concert to see Pearl Jam, but rather for the evening’s opening band, City Pig Unit. While backstage, she was approached by Vedder. “How do you like my new tattoo?’, he asked. I told him I liked it. He was extremely shy, but I really felt a connection with him.”
They later met up at Kafé België and, after several hours of conversation, Custers offered to call Vedder a taxi back to his hotel. “But he asked: Do you have a bike? He wanted to ride on the back,” she recalled. They proceeded to ride through Utrecht, stopping occasionally to take photographs. While on the back of the bike, Vedder held Custers’ backpack, which contained a red flannel shirt. After exchanging goodbyes, Vedder went back to the hotel, taking the backpack with him.
Now 49 years old and the mother of three children, Custers has attempted to reconnect with Vedder over the years. “I have thought about it so many times, but I didn’t know how I would arrange it. It would be great to meet again. He kinda feels like my soulmate,” she told Het Partool. As luck would have it, Vedder got wind of her interview in Het Partool and invited Custers and her husband to his show in Brussels. Following the concert, Custers went backstage and reunited with her old friend, who instantly recognized her. “You still have the same smile,” Vedder told her.
Vedder revealed to Custers that he had attempted to return her backpack. “I made you write down your address in order to do so. I’m not sure if I still have it now, but I kept it for years at least,” he remarked.