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Not for me: Pearl Jam tickets too rich for my blood

By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor

I sometimes forget just how naive I really am.

It’s silly really. I hold dear to beliefs that I really shouldn’t. I believe jeans and flannel will never go out of style. Jason Varitek should and will retire with the Boston Red Sox in about four to six years. Manny Ramirez, too. Record stores will always exist.

And Pearl Jam will never, ever price me out of a show. I mean, at least not without a really good excuse.

Right?

Last week, tickets went on sale for Pearl Jam’s east coast tour, which includes stops in Mansfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and two shows in New York City’s amazing Madison Square Garden. The old me, he of fewer living expenses and responsibilities, probably would have tried to finagle a way to get to at least two of those four dates. But I’m much more fiscally conservative these days, so I’d have to settle on one. Mansfield it was, then.

But I grew worried very quickly when word about the prices for these shows starting leaking out. The price was sneaking into the seventies for a ticket, but for some reason, it didn’t register with me. Shock? Denial? Call it what you will.

And then this past Thursday, I logged in at 11 a.m. to hop in for the fan club pre-sale, hoping to take advantage of my senior status in Pearl Jam’s Ten Club and snag some seats close to the stage. I clicked over to the band’s “Goods” section, clicked on the tickets icon, and then I saw the price for a pair staring me in the face:

$148.

$74 apiece.

Damn it. Is this real?

Since the age of 14 or so, I’ve invested a great deal of my time and free resources on this band. They’ve pushed me through high school, college, work and happily into married life and beyond. I’ve spent any free dollars I’ve come across on records, CDs, t-shirts, DVDs, posters, you name it. I’ve downloaded and traded for hundreds of bootlegs. If you want to call me a super fan, geek, obsessed, anything, you’d probably be right.

But I haven’t done all this without a sense of righteousness. Through it all, Pearl Jam has held to their ideals stronger than most. For example, all their CD artwork and packaging has been printed on recycled paper since the early 90s. They famously went to war with Ticketmaster over high fees. They’ve made it a point to make recordings of all of their concerts available, and priced to move. They allow taping of their shows. They’ve donated proceeds from many of their shows to charity. Hell, they even buy carbon offsets to make up for the damage that their touring does to the environment.

Most of all, they’ve done their best to keep ticket prices low. Never have I even thought twice about buying tickets to a show, because they were always fairly priced and significantly lower than those of their peers.

The band has even released statements on their Web site explaining ticket prices in the past. But, not this time. The openness doesn’t seem to be there like it once was. The cost was there, waiting to be stumbled upon by prospective concert goers. It doesn’t sit well with me.

This could be written off as complaining or bellyaching. You can call me naive, and I won’t fight you. But this is a disappointment that I’ve never experienced with this band before. I’ve composed glowing pieces about this band time and time again. I’ve loved all of their albums. Their shows have been significant moments in my life.

Now? They’re going to go on the road, and I won’t have anything to do with it. I couldn’t join the party even if I wanted to.

Pearl Jam has priced me out.

March 31, 2008

E-mail Nick Tavares at nick@staticandfeedback.com

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