Pearl Jam have a fervent fanbase, the kind that arrives early and lines up at the merch stands hours before the show is set to begin. Why? Well, in past years one constant has often been their posters, featuring art specific to that show and never to be used elsewhere, a memento for the people who were there. Sometimes you’ll find these for sale on their site, or being traded between members of the fanbase. They, however, don’t usually spark headlines or much acknowledgment at all outside of the Pearl Jam world. But then again, the posters don’t usually feature Donald Trump’s corpse.
For Pearl Jam’s show in Missoula, Montana this past Monday night, bassist Jeff Ament cooked up a real doozy of a poster with the artist Bobby Draws Skulls. It wasn’t just another Pearl Jam show — this one was helping raise funds for Montana’s Democratic senator Jon Tester, who is running for re-election and who Pearl Jam have thrown their support behind in the past. So the top of the poster depicts smoke forming into the word “Vote” with Jon Tester flying through the air on a tractor.
Beneath that smoke is a burning White House. And on the lawn of those soon-to-be-ruins is the corpse of Donald Trump, reaching for a briefcase emblazoned with the Russian hammer and sickle as an eagle picks at his bones. There’s a lot going on there, and naturally this has not gone over well with Republicans.
Case in point, the National Republican Senatorial Committee took Pearl Jam’s poster and used it as ammo to decry Tester’s campaign:
DESPICABLE: @JonTester’s Pearl Jam concert posters depict a smiling @SenJonTester flying over a burning White House while the President that Montanans support lays dead. #MTSen #mtpol https://t.co/Yh6oqZFAhW
— The Senate Majority (@NRSC) August 15, 2018
Tester’s opponent Matt Rosendale, who also appears on the poster as a caricature referencing his Maryland roots, had some choice words as well:
This poster from Pearl Jam is disgusting and reprehensible. It depicts a dead President Trump and a burning White House. It's time for @JonTester to denounce this act of violence and blatant display of extremism! https://t.co/nIKTNPOFxX #MontanaFirst #MAGA #mtsen #mtpol
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) August 14, 2018
I guess it totally makes sense that Republicans would be angry about this, given that they have behaved as paragons of virtue and civility in the time of our dear reality show leader.
Chances are Pearl Jam were expecting the right-wing backlash. They’ve been an outspokenly political band for years — Eddie Vedder pissed off conservatives years ago by impaling a Dubya mask on his mic stand during “Bushleaguer,” and they’ve been offering plenty of little commentary during the Trump era, too. Back in the halcyon pre-election days of April 2016, Vedder danced around in a Trump mask during “Do The Evolution.” This year, they released “Can’t Deny Me,” a song that sure feels informed by the times, and had Vedder’s wife Jill come onstage in a jacket with “Yes We All Care. Y Don’t U?” written on it, referencing Melania’s infamous outerwear choice when she was heading to visit children separated from their families thanks to Trump’s border policies.
Pearl Jam shared the image of the poster earlier today along with an early sketch and Ament’s comments. He references “Russian money” and “golf courses” before stating: “Y’all know the deal. We’re at a tipping point and it’s time for action.” You can check out both their Twitter and Instagram posts below. And if you’d like to be further amused by this whole saga, there are of course befuddled and aghast comments from Trump-supporting Pearl Jam fans who have somehow ignored the band’s politics for almost three decades.
— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) August 14, 2018