“YOU’RE SO WARM…
WHEN I LAY DOWN…
YOUR CROOKED ARM!!!
SPIN THE BLACK CIRCLE!!
SPIN THE BLACK,
SPIN THE BLACK!!!”
What up yo.
1st one is of my boys performing:
SPIN SPIN!!! SPIN THE BLACK CIRCLE!!
during the “Self Pollution Radio” live FM radio broadcast on January 8, 1995.
I was driving around with my brother Sunthar that night almost 20 years ago…
Listening to the broadcast on the radio live. I remember it being this crazy idea at the time, and it was on late for us as we were 3 hours ahead of them in New York (they were broadcasting from Eddies joint in Seattle) It was tough to tune in at times, but when we found a lock…we stayed in that general area and zoned in. Thinking back now, this allowed for great memories. It was also an opportunity to be plugged into the band live while they were off rocking out somewhere else on planet earth. It was groundbreaking really.
This broadcast predates the digital age and days of having the internet in your pocket, on your smartphone, plugged into your car…straight up your ass.
And what came across to me back then about most of the actions they took as a collective band was how much they loved and appreciated their fans. How they stood for justice and fairness. They were the biggest band in the world at that point and had engaged in a full blown war with Ticketmaster because the corporation wouldn’t stop charging an additional 25% fee on top of ticket prices. Pearl Jam was clear on the point that they wanted the max ticket price to be $20 for their fans. Tcketmaster refused to lower their fees. The boys saw this as the monster company blatantly ripping off the kids that wanted to come and see the band play, ripping off their fans.
And if the band didn’t like it, they weren’t allowed to play at Ticketmaster venues. Problem was that they were a monopoly and had exclusive rights to 3/4 of all the great stadiums , arenas and concert halls in the USA.
Pearl Jam were still kids themselves at this point, still very connected to the kids that went to their shows because not too long before that was them. They now had a huge, international spotlight being shined on them.
They took advantage of the attention and raised hell. They rolled up their sleeves and went to war with the monopoly that is Ticketmaster.
They lost after testifying on Capitol Hill that Ticketmaster was engaging in monopolistic and unfair business practices and in the end, legislation was signed in to effect that forced the company to disclose all charges they added to tickets from then on, but the investigation into the company itself suddenly stopped a year after being launched.
Bravo to PJ for standing up. Bravo.
Now, the downside to this battle was if you were a fan and wanted to see Pearl Jam play live during that period of time.
The loss of Tcketmasters services presented a ton of unexpected obstacles for the band. It would end up costing them many fans. And in a move that was supposed to protect and defend the fans…it inadvertently ended up alienating many of them. They were now unable to play in cities that only had Ticketmaster venues in them…and because they had exclusive contracts with most of these venues…Pearl Jam was forced to play in venues that proved difficult for the fans to get to.
- They were the biggest band on the planet at the time
- The shows would need to be held in venues that could accommodate large audiences they were drawing at the time
- Ticket sales had to be organized by the band
- Security now had to be organized by the band
Many fans, well…I don’t regard them as fans, but many people who liked the band when it was popular to like them began to fade away as they misunderstood what the band was trying to do and miss took it for them being overly political and greedy.
Then on top of the issues with venues, getting the tickets in the first place was a nightmare.
I speak from experience.
They hadn’t been to New York for a minute and then they announced they were going to play here…but the concert would be on Randall’s Island, and you would have to take a bus too and from the site. You would have to call a number, get a code or something, then call back. The system got overloaded and didn’t work right at all. I don’t remember all the ins and outs, just that it was a fucking mess.
So I try and fail to secure tickets. This was in 1996 in support of their greatest album and musical accomplishment, “No Code”.
So the day before the show, my buddy…the buddy that first introduced me to Pearl Jam in the first place Shaun (the same Shaun that took me to meet Martin Scorsese) …Shaun came to the bar I was working at and asked me if I wanted to go to the show the next day.
He began to explain the process of how we would need to travel into the city to see the show. We would go to a bus stop and get a bus over to Randall’s Island. For some reason that escapes and enrages me to this day, I passed.
Another friend of mine, Kevin, goes to the show. It rained. Outside venue, general admission. Water and mud. Nothing could stop them. Eddie taunted the storm. Told it he wouldn’t stop no matter what. They played for 3 + hours. Bottom line, Pearl Jam’s Randall’s Island Show in 1996 was historic. My friend Kevin’s exact words to me a few days after the show were as follows:
“it changed my life.”
If you’re not a Pearl Jam fan, that reads like nonsense.
If you are, you’re feeling my pain.
Anyway, just painting for you here.
The process was hard, I believe they cancelled the tour half way through because it got to nuts.
But apparently If you did go, you got one hell of a show.
Anyway, “SPR” was the live radio broadcast from ’95. They played a live show of sorts, for free, brought in a ton of guests, and broadcasted it on the radio. There are great soundboard quality bootlegs of this show all over the place.
Guests on the show included Mad Season, Sonic Youth, Kris Novoselic (Kurt had just died less than a year before), Dave Grohl had just started The Foo Fighters & played a few songs from their upcoming debut album. The broadcast itself ran approx. 4 hours, was a mishmash of commentary, insight & music from multiple bands and artists.
Here are some other performances From that night.
This is one of the tracks they played. This song, “Spin The Black Circle” won the Grammy for Hard a Rock Performance that year.
Have you ever seen the video of Eddie and the boys accepting the award?
Finally, this was posted today and is a full length video of the boys being interviewed by Film Director Judd Apatow who is apparently a fan. He asks good questions and it’s nice, and a bit rare nowdays, to have all the boys in a room together to talk. They have conquered the music scene together, created amazing music together, endured tragedy together and after all is said and done, they are pretty much the same line up they were 23 years ago when they started. One member I greatly miss is Dave Abbruzzese, the drummer for the band from 1992-1994. While Jack Irons and Matt Cameron are both gifted drummers, there was an energy and groove that Dave contributed to the music that has been lost since he left. I felt his energy was essential to the band.
But with that exception, to have survived this long and still be together is a testament to each of them and a rarity in rock and roll.