Pearl Jam are one of the bands that invests a lot of time in the look of their concert posters. Or at least they sign off on some great design ideas. Pearl Jam is a band that concentrates a lot of their collective energies on creating grassroots in the same way that some of their favorite punk bands managed to in the 1980’s. This is no small thing for a multi-platinum selling band that throughout the years has managed to retain it’s artistic integrity.
This is a quick look at the band’s history, from their amazing debut, through to their fight against outrageous ticket prices and their self promoted shows, to their present day glories, as seen through their concert posters.
Pearl Jam rose out of the ashes of Mother Love Bone and it was quickly after they had found their new singer, Eddie Vedder, that they started playing live. These concert posters show them opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sharp eyes will notice Pearl Jam lower on the bill than the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, which must have been quite some great shows.
Pearl Jam then released “Ten”, arguably their most consistent set of songs and began promotion for it. While on tour “the Grunge movement” become an international phenomenon in the wake of another Seattle band’s release, namely Nirvana’s “Nevermind”.
Pearl Jam followed it’s debut with “Vs.” featuring some of their best songs like “Dissident”, “Go” or “Rearviewmirror”. In the wake of great success Pearl Jam started taking a step backwards from promotion, with none of the songs on the album being accompanied by a music video.
By 1995 they had released “Vitalogy” another great collection of songs, showcasing the band’s growth in terms of songwriting and vision. At the end of 1994 Pearl Jam, who by then were arguably the most successful band in America, bravely started a boycott against the monopoly of concert organizers Ticketmaster. This started a period where the band attempted to organize it’s own concerts and to break away from the recording and touring systems.
Pearl Jam continued it’s protest while not receiving the support they may have been expecting from other like minded bands. The band did make it clear however that they were willing to take great risks in supporting their fans and causes that they believed in.
With the release of “No Code” in 1996, Pearl Jam made a clear attempt in changing the sound that had made the internationally famous. It was also a sound that had been greatly copied. Chief among the elements of the band’s sound reproduced by other bands, were Vedder’s distorted baritone vocals. This did provide an opportunity for Vedder to experiment with new styles and sounds and saw the band moving away from some of the elements that had ensured their success. Pearl Jam did show it’s commitment to creating a varied and original sound.
As the band’s sound progressed so did the poster designs, gradually becoming more elaborate, funnier and better suited for fans collections.
It was a period of reflection that found it’s way also on the writing of the “Yield” album. On many dates of this tour, the band was accompanied by the legend that is Iggy Pop.
Pearl Jam further moved away from the “Grunge sound” with the release of 2000’s “Binaural”. The record did in fact feature Binaural recordings on some of the songs, while it was noticeable that the band was moving further away from their original sound and was willing to experiment with new recording and writing methods.
It also marked the beginning of the “official bootlegs” of the band. Pearl Jam released 72 live albums, mimicking the look of bootleg records, with the exception that the recording had been made at much better quality. Apparently the band noticed many bootlegs being made readily available and decided to compete with their own versions. Being that the group was under a recording contract at the time, the albums were indeed released as “official bootlegs”, most of them could be found in stores and broke a record for most albums by a single band featured in the Top 200 at the same time.