5 Times Pearl Jam Put Fans First
Pearl Jam’s precautionary postponement of the spring Gigaton tour amid pandemic concern, which was originally set to launch March 18, is just the latest example of the band going out of its way to look out for its fanbase and the larger community. Here are five times PJ put the audience first.
With COVID-19 virus worries going around the world, Pearl Jam was one of the first major acts to postpone a tour. With Gigaton only weeks away from release, all the tickets sold and fans planning lots of travel, it wasn’t easy to put health and safety over above everything else, but the band made this tough call with everyone in mind. “It’s been brutal” in their hometown of Seattle, they wrote. “And it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. ... We have a unique group of passionate fans who travel far and wide. We have always been humbled by this and respect their energies and devotion. However in this case, travel is something to avoid.” The band expressed that they were sorry, upset and frustrated, and the message that came across loud and clear is that they care about their listeners.
By 1995, Pearl Jam had a well-earned reputation as a live act; a reputation that grew throughout the ‘90s. Fans were invited to record shows a la the Grateful Dead and share them with each other, and a strong ad-hoc tape trading community thrived, albeit with audio that was nowhere near perfect. The band responded by releasing official versions of every concert from a major world tour so that fans everywhere can just pop by a record store and grab any one of 72 shows? That move in 2000 for the Binaural tour was unprecedented and the band has continued to release almost every single one of its shows to this day.
Pearl Jam’s battle with Ticketmaster in the mid-‘90s is famous, but what many often forget is how it started during the Vs. tour when they tried to cap ticket prices and service fees to make it easier on fans when the band could have had a much bigger payday. After filing an official complaint with the Justice Department, they canceled a summer 1994 trek and hunkered down to finish Vitalogy, which debuted that fall. For their next few tours, the band only played venues that were not under Ticketmaster's control.
Salt Lake City 1995
A much smaller example, but a telling one, came on the 1995 tour. Terrible thunderstorms broke the sound system and threatened safety at Salt Lake City’s Wolf Mountain Amphitheater, and the band opted to cancel even though fans were already at the outdoor venue. Singer Eddie Vedder grabbed a megaphone and promised to “come back and play twice as long.” Pearl Jam doubled down on that promise, returning a few months later for two nights in Salt Lake City instead of just one.
Fan Club Tickets
They could have let fan club members battle for tickets with everyone else, but in 1995, Pearl Jam began offering pre-sales to the Ten Club to just about every show in advance of the general public sale. The cherry on top is that the tickets are always the best seats in the venue, starting from the front row, and all of the tickets are the same price. Add to this fact that the fan club only costs $20 a year (and was as low as $5 in the ‘90s) and comes with other benefits, and you have some serious fan-first access.