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On Thursday night, Pearl Jam played a secret gig at the Showbox in Seattle. According to various online reports, the performance was attended by 300 paid extras who signed up for a concert shoot by a mystery act. And while NDAs were signed and cellphones were banned, the secret reason for the show came out via blogs and Twitter: the famously anti-corporate rock band was licensing brand new song “The Fixer” to a Target commercial, directed by their old bud Cameron Crowe. Or at least that’s what some attendees claimed on blog posts … that have now been mysteriously deleted?

Three Imaginary Girls shared this account, later deleted but cached on Google:

How I accidentally saw Pearl Jam with 300 other people
Submitted by keenan dowers on May 29, 2009.

I just got home from the Showbox at the Market where I just saw Pearl Jam debut a new song being filmed by Cameron Crowe (yes, the Say Anything/Fast Times at Ridgemont High/Singles/Almost Famous/etc. Cameron Crowe). WTF?

I had received an e-mail about being an extra for a filmed “rock concert”, where we were warned that we’d be pretty happy about the band, and we’d be well compensated. I figured it had to be someone awful, like a recently reunited Christian rock band that I will not even waste my time mentioning. We were instructed to arrive at the Showbox at the Market in staggered check in times from 2-3pm (though lines were so long, it ran several hours after that). We filled out forms. Our pictures were taken. Rumors were flying, and the guy in line next to me told me he thought the bands initials were “P and J”. I figured it had to be a joke.

No joke. After 5 hours of waiting around and being fed and meeting new folks, we were finally told it was Pearl Jam (and that it was sponsored by a very large NOT LOCAL corporation – I’m almost positive I did NOT sign a nondisclosure form). Another hour of milling about and we’re finally let in to be hearded around a bit more, and then out they come, our local boys, for their first live performance in quite some time, to debut a brand new song in a video directed by Mr. Cameron Crowe.

At first I was sort of upset. Why had this not been a fan club event? Why were there all these people who really didn’t care that it was Pearl Jam, just some famous band that they’d heard of, when I knew dozens of hardcore Ten Clubbers who would have done anything to be at that event? Why was this experience being wasted on me, someone who hasn’t really been a diehard Pearl Jam fan in over a decade? Cell phones were banned, so I couldn’t call any of my friends to beg them to come down and try and get in. So I just stood there, and listened to the new song (a sing along blazing rocker about how we can beat the bad economy/hard times by fighting for what we love – it’s going to be their biggest hit in at least a decade) played about 10 times.

And then it hit me – over 300 random Washingtonians, many of whom were probably out of work, made a decent sum of money to watch the biggest still existing band from Seattle play a brand new song for the first time (the rest of you will have to wait until they’re on Conan on Monday).

They closed the evening with two songs – The Dead Boys “Sonic Reducer” (sounded amazing), and a slower jam that I didn’t quite recognize. All in all one of the more surreal experiences I’ve ever had. I wish I could have shared it with all of you.

According To Talia blogged, then deleted, a similar recap. That link comes via The Daily Swarm, who suggests a related thread on Pearl Jam’s official fan club has been censored.

You can hear an bootleg audio recording of the song (also being referred to as “Something’s Going On”) at Antiquiet and Fuel Friends.

Pearl Jam are rumored to be performing the tune on the Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien premiere tomorrow night. Stay tuned…

UPDATE: Pearl Jam’s manager has confirmed the Target shoot and says the band’s forthcoming LP Backspacer will come “without a U.S. label, but a consortium of partners, including Target as the ’big box’ retail partner. More at Billboard.

Comments (56)
  1. oh here we go.

  2. Grace you crack me up, why don’t you have a blog?

    Anywho… for updates on this story, follow dirtyfrankdahmr on twitter

  3. lulz  |   Posted on May 31st, 2009 0

    pearl jam ?

  4. Digger  |   Posted on May 31st, 2009 0

    Ahhh.. crap.

  5. well they had a good 15 year streak there didn’t they – band’s gotta eat caviar sometimes

  6. Jack  |   Posted on May 31st, 2009 0

    Aint gonna lie- I love Target.

  7. The one really douchy thing about this is they only played two other songs at the end. I’m sure they were tired, but you gotta seize the moment.

    • Kevo  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

      I’m no Pearl Jam apologist, but why is it douchey that they “only” played two extra songs? Clearly, the set was one designed to record a video for a single song. The other two songs were favors. They didn’t have to play any extras, and they played two.

      Plus, like this entry points out, most of the people there either weren’t big fans or weren’t even fans at all. It would have been a waste to play a full set.

  8. Eh, well, the Target thing kinda sucks but at least it’s directed by Crowe, who they’re friends with. Still, new Pearl Jam material is always good, not only because it’s well…new material…but also because it means a tour. And they’re always awesome live.

    And the Target thing hasn’t been confirmed yet…I hope they don’t do it because it just sounds lame in theory, but I’ll give ‘em a pass as long as the song is alright.

  9. AJ Thunderfuck  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    First Elizabethtown now this.

  10. oh my that sounds impressive, make money by seeing pear jam

  11. Pete Fontaine  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Full disclsoure: I’m making this post from my desk at my corporate-type job, wearing my suit and tie. So I can’t scream “sellout” without being hypocritical. And I’ve generally never been the type to get overly effected by this sort of thing anyway. To an extent, I’ve been able to accept that a lot of the the music business is just that: a business. It is what it is.

    But please God I hope this Target connection is a rumor and is not true. Pearl Jam has been my favorite band since I can remember and this goes against everything they’ve stood for since their inception. It’s not so much that it doesn’t sit well with me–I can’d understand how on Earth it could sit well with the band?

    • It only makes you a hypocrite/sellout if you share their anti-big business views.

      Personally, though I’m pretty progressive in my political views, I’m generally apathetic about big businesses. Some of them are ok, some of them I hate. What I don’t like is politicians who, despite their alleged views favoring good policy, make poor policy choices or downright capitulations on behalf of big business interests.

      So even if I don’t really share their views completely, I would feel justified calling Pearl Jam sellouts, and if I were really a fan who thought they stood for something meaningful based on their stated political views, I would be terribly disappointed.

  12. douchey  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    This is completely unsurprising. They haven’t produced any worthwhile music since 1991. This is just a confirmation of the impending and inevitable sellout.
    Well done!

  13. Sweaty  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    I remember when the Who sold out, to a car commercial I think it was. They argued that they were offered so many millions of dollars, it just would have been stupid not to take it. God, I hope never ever hear Neil Young in a commercial.

  14. Bruce Palmer Eldritch  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    It’s evolution baby!

  15. Eddie Vedder is so deep man…

  16. Kyle  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    I love Pearl Jam and always look forward to a new album. For anyone to get weird about them supposedly “selling out” seems naive. This is not and never has been an indie band. This is a band that got a major label deal after a couple of shows. This band has always been promoted by big money. It just so happens today most big labels suck at promoting music. So if PJ can make a bigger splash going through Target, why shouldn’t they? What is the difference between taking a huge pile of cash from one company (epic/SONY) or another (Target)?

    • the problem is this:

      you’re right. they never ever were an indie band. never slugged it out in a shitty van, jammed econo, etc. they went straight to Epic. the reason people feel gross about their connection to Target is because EV has always screamed from the rooftops about his DIY spirit and his reverence for all things indie. so i see where the unsettling feeling comes from.

      that being said, i’m not sure i’m appalled by the Target tie in. i certainly understand it though.

  17. Sal  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    I’m sorry, the Target thing may be disappointing (if it’s even true) but this is amazingly cool in my opinion: “And then it hit me – over 300 random Washingtonians, many of whom were probably out of work, made a decent sum of money to watch the biggest still existing band from Seattle play a brand new song for the first time.”

  18. Scentless Apprentice  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Without Target then there couldn’t be a Target Lady…

  19. Now there’s rumors of them selling their album exclusively through Target.

    That’s even more lame, although you’ll still probably be able to buy it through Ten Club and all that.

    I don’t know how to defend this, and I want to, since I’ve been a Pearl Jam fan since my early teens, but I guess it all comes down to whether the music is good or not.

  20. sb  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    pj, crowe, and target all kind of exist in the same “too big for their own good” territory…

  21. Farmer Ted  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Pearl Jam is the worst band that has ever existed.
    They have problems writing songs.

    -Farmer Ted

  22. MPLSound  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Jesus people… calm down. All this sellout talk is ridiculous. Last time I checked, Sony was a massive global corporation. PJ was never “indie”. Just enjoy the music for what it is regardless of where you have to go to buy the album. Since when was the music about WHERE you buy it? Half of you idiots are going to steal it anyway, so why do you care???

    • what?!  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

      oh dang – you just stabbed an indie record store employee right in the heart. enjoy your time shopping at wal-mart then?

    • Pete Fontaine  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

      Pearl Jam is no longer on Sony/Epic. The new album was supposed to be self-released.

      • MPLSound  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

        Thanks for the newsflash Fontaine. I just crawled out from under a rock, so I find that information quite helpful.
        You’ll still be able to buy the new album direct from the band if you don’t want to support “the man”. However I still stand by the theory that the majority of you people don’t pay for music. Nice work screwing the indie stores (and artists).

        and no, I do not, and will not shop @ Wal-Mart.

        • If these anti-piracy arguments work on anyone, maybe they deserve to pay top dollar. Struggling indie artists like Pearl Jam get “screwed”, to be precise, by lack of income. There’s no need to invoke piracy, namely because there’s no need to restrict one’s contributions to an artist to purchases. The same goes for “indie stores”. There can be no ethical argument against piracy unless it can convince people that each individual beneficiery of the licit method of exchange is, independently of the others, deserving of its take.

  23. Word on the street is PJ’s album drops in Target tomorrow. Announcment comes tonight on Conan.

  24. blah  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    At least its a new song most people have never heard before, in an attempt to (maybe) market their efforts in a creative fashion. I had no problem with Wilco using ‘Sky Blue Sky’ in a VW campaign. They thought it fit their demographic and the band openly admitted they drive them.

    Heck, maybe Pearl Jam likes Target. Nobody here shops at Target? You don’t think Jeff Ament’s ever picked up some deodorant or Stone Gossard a 3-pack of undershirts from Target?

    My only gripe is why can’t anyone actually write jingles specifically for commercials anymore? It used to be a reputable occupation requiring some form of talent.

  25. JAck  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Come to think of it, every “indie” music store I shop at (mainly for records) the employees can be arrogant and pretentious. The middle aged woman cashier at Targets music section is always helpful, and also treats me with respect (like I am a paying customer or something). Perhaps they’ll add a used vinyl section.

    And to the “sell-out” gallery, go download it from the AAPL i-tunes store

    • tyler  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

      at the local indie store, I know my money is going to people who support local and independent music.

      at Target, I know my money is going to buy a corporate regional manager fondue.

      • Target regional managers don’t listen to or support indpendent music? Indie store owners don’t eat fondue?

        I hope you sew your own underwear out of corn husks from your local farmers market. I heard those Fruit Of A Loom corporate bastards eat children.

  26. what?!  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    ok then. i’ll take back my wal-mart comment. my bad. i only took offense to the idea that it doesn’t matter which business you’re supporting as long as you’re buying the music. you can buy vegetables lots of places too, but i would bet that given the option it would make you feel better to buy local, organic, whatever, etc., etc. – the same way it makes lots of folks feel better if they’re handing their money straight to a band at a show. i don’t have a problem with target. it’s a great place to buy deodorant and sundries. i don’t have a problem with pearl jam making money. i hope every band makes something for their efforts, however, bands sell out the second they sell something. that imaginary line in the sand between commercial and indie has never been sacred and if you think so, you’re fooling yourself.

    • MPLSound  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

      Ok… I think we’re on the same page here. At the end of the day, bands need to make money by selling their music and their likeness (CD’s, MP3s, Live tix, Merch, etc.) If they’re not able to make money, they will disappear.
      If you’re not happy buying from Target, WM, Best Buy, etc. Then buy direct from the band. But don’t convince yourself that a band’s business decision gives you a reason to stop supporting their music.
      Just ENJOY THE MUSIC and SUPPORT THE BANDS (and by that, I mean pay for their music).
      thank you and good night.

  27. MPLSound  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Ok… I think we’re on the same page here. At the end of the day, bands need to make money by selling their music and their likeness (CD’s, MP3s, Live tix, Merch, etc.) If they’re not able to make money, they will disappear.
    If you’re not happy buying from Target, WM, Best Buy, etc. Then buy direct from the band. But don’t convince yourself that a band’s business decision gives you a reason to stop supporting their music.
    Just ENJOY THE MUSIC and SUPPORT THE BANDS (and by that, I mean pay for their music).
    thank you and good night.

  28. Gman  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    Oh god no! Please say it isn’t so!! This was one of the reason’s I liked Pearl Jam…..ughhh!

  29. kyle  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 0

    For all of those concerned that Pearl Jam is screwing indie record stores with this Target deal….consider that the deal allows them to sell through mom and pop indie stores as well.

    I think this band puts more thought into how they release music, treat their fans, impact their environment than any other band of their stature.

    You all LOVE Radiohead when they GIVE their record away for FREE, hands down robbing indie stores of that revenue.

    The members of Pearl Jam, I assume, all have enough money… they could give their record away for free… but they also make a lot of money for a lot of people. And they go about it in a respectable and thoughtful way.

    All the haters should look at their favorite bands and scrutinize how they are conducting their business… I doubt most of these so called DIY bands have to face a fraction of the situational decisions of band like Pearl Jam.

    When Grizzly Bear has sold over 10 million records and consistently sold out venues around the world for 15 plus years let’s all pick up a magnifying glass and see how they go about it.

    That’s never going to happen by the way.

  30. uhh… at least it will be a good target add?

  31. Ben  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    Sony > Target… they had to distribute somehow without a label. They’re still distributing to Independant/Record stores and we’ll probably see something similar to Radiohead and NIN. This is actually a better deal than most bands. Read the article on Billboard.

  32. rusty bevis  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    its better to burn out than to fade away opening act courtney love

  33. Seattle  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    Vedder who said he’s ” into harder core stuff” and “likes shitting on little girls heads” doing a commercial for Target?

  34. I don’t see anything wrong with cutting out the record label. The big labels have to understand that the times have changed and bands have other means to distribute records. Not sure about the “sellout” argument. Haven’t read many details about the deal.

    My Music Blog: http://www.ronaldsays.com
    My Music Twitter: http://twitter.com/ronaldsays

  35. Jesse  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    Look, I am a huuuge pearl jam fan and when I heard about this, I was like WTF just like everyone else, but before getting up in arms about how badly they are selling out, I read the Billboard article interviewing Kelly Curtis, and I think this is a really interesting business model. Being on a major label is just as corporate, and they make these kind of deals so the bands don’t have. Pearl Jam is no longer on a major label (or any for that matter) but they recognize that they need to be accessible to the masses considering that they are one of the biggest bands in the world. Not making your music accessible to the millions of fans who love you, whether they are hardcore fans, or casual friends, is a dick move. Yeah it seems pretty ridiculous- pearl jam and target, but they are taking the marketing of their album into their own hands, and in a pretty interesting way.

  36. Peter  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    All I have this to say… this is a business, and music is pearl jam’s business. They have evolved with time, and like anyone else, they have mastered their talents and want to be paid accordingly. As a working professional and a huge pearl jam fan, I have absolutely no problem with the band doing commercials or whatever to promote their music and to get their stuff out there. Let’s not forget that when pearl jam was anti-corporations, that was like 15 years ago. Times change and people change with and people change along with time. So you need to do what you got to do, and good for PJ for continuing to put stuff out there for us to enjoy. Looking forward to a tour!!!

  37. Peter  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    All I have this to say… this is a business, and music is pearl jam’s business. They have evolved with time, and like anyone else, they have mastered their talents and want to be paid accordingly. As a working professional and a huge pearl jam fan, I have absolutely no problem with the band doing commercials or whatever to promote their music and to get their stuff out there. Let’s not forget that when pearl jam was anti-corporations, that was like 15 years ago. Times change and people change with and people change along with time. So you need to do what you got to do, and good for PJ for continuing to put stuff out there for us to enjoy. Looking forward to a tour!!!

  38. Peter  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    All I have this to say… this is a business, and music is pearl jam’s business. They have evolved with time, and like anyone else, they have mastered their talents and want to be paid accordingly. As a working professional and a huge pearl jam fan, I have absolutely no problem with the band doing commercials or whatever to promote their music and to get their stuff out there. Let’s not forget that when pearl jam was anti-corporations, that was like 15 years ago. Times change and people change with and people change along with time. So you need to do what you got to do, and good for PJ for continuing to put stuff out there for us to enjoy. Looking forward to a tour!!!

  39. even if Pearl Jam never were truly indie, they certainly never would’ve done a target ad before. they definitely just sold out.

  40. Willie  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    The problem with most of the kneejerk, “sellout”-heckling reactions we’ve seen in the wake of this deal is that it’s being thought of in the wrong terms.

    The indie stores won’t be shut out of this, as Target was named as the exclusive “big box” retailer.

    Stop thinking of it as an agreement to only sell the album at Target, and start thinking of it as what it really is: an agreement to NOT sell the album at Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

    This is an awesome business decision :)

  41. inhidinginmd  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    whats the difference in a big store being involved with a band and a big record company being involved and owning all of the rights and masters? that is actually worse. pj now gets to do everything on its own terms and have a big partner selling the record and getting their message out. plus their charitable contributions and efforts can’t be outdone. they are a bunch of great people who make great music.

  42. Griffinb  |   Posted on Jun 29th, 2009 0

    Eddie wants to do it because the Target symbol is the same as the Who’s isolation symbol, so he thinks it’s a mysterious partnership. Seriously, they have to reach a mass audience. If I had to buy the record but could only go to an indie music shop, how long would it take me to buy it? I guess I could order it online but there are so many people who don’t do that.. so .. I don’t give a crap about Target. I want the album and I don’t want to search around for it.

  43. i like the real thing  |   Posted on Jul 23rd, 2009 0

    PJ are one of the last remaining bands whose album I will stand in line at my local independent outlet for. How many other bands just hope that people will download enough singles to make them money? PJ work damn hard on their entire albums, create music and enjoy touring. It’s a pleasure to get lost in their music.

  44. Brendon  |   Posted on Aug 16th, 2009 0

    Most of you seemed to say something like: bummer about the Target possibility. While I tend to agree, I shop there for things I can’t get at Farmer’s Market in Lafayette, LA. I prefer it to Walmart and Albertson’s. Which is why I speculate the following: anybody remember, way back in the Neocon tide of 2002-05, something about Walmart banning PJ? Right around when the Dixie chicks were getting censored by country radio stations and anybody who voted Republican didn’t care. What I recall is walking into Walmart a few times, saw there wasn’t even a plastic label for them (plenty of Toby Keith to be had). I haven’t been back in a couple years but, and here’s the guess I have, I wonder if this Target connection isn’t a way to get back at or capitalize on Walmart’s conservative leanings.
    Peace.

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