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Bootlegs galore: Pearl Jam
changed concerts forever


Their live shows are near-legendary at this point. They
mix up setlists, keep rare songs rare, and can and will
play anywhere from 2 to 4 hours on any given night.
There’s no telling what could happen, how intense the
solos get or how insane the crowd is that night.

No, I’m not talking about the Grateful Dead. I’m not
even talking about Phish. It’s Pearl Jam, in case you
read past the headline.

In the winter of 2000, Pearl Jam announced that they
were unleashing a torrent of live discs chronicling their
summer jaunt through Europe, 25 shows in all (not
including the tragic Roskilde festival from that year,
obviously). Two-disc sets, for just a shade over $11,
for fanclub members only, and they flew out of their
Seattle post office. Not long after, the 52 North American shows were unleashed, and a trend was born: “Official”

They were modest undertakings with minimal packaging, but the idea struck a chord with fans, music lovers and
the industry as a whole. The band sold a good number of the North American sets in retail stores, sparking other
bands to try the same. Phish launched their live site, The Who made shows available from their 2002 and 2004
shows, with the profits going to charity, and ClearChannel created “Instant Live,” charging $30 for their shows. It’
s close to  impossible to count how many bands have dipped their hands into this now.

Fearing a second wave of mainstream popularity that might interfere with their creative prowness as a band,
Pearl Jam scaled back a bit with their CD releases for the 2003 Riot Act tour. Only a select number of shows
wound up in stores, but every one was available online to order, complete with DIY stickers listing that night’s
setlist for the back cover.

As I had with the 2000 tour, I blew my money (and carefully arranged for many to be presents on applicable
birthdays and holidays) in order to get them all. Maybe it’s fantaticism, maybe it’s simply for love of the music. It
doesn’t matter — I’ve listened to them all and loved most of them. It’s a living, breathing archive of one of the
seminal bands of the last 15 years — and no, that’s not hyperbole. It’s only exaggeration if you don’t believe it.

Pearl Jam are on the cusp of another tour, this one a nearly all-Canada jaunt, and they’re unveiling their bootleg
series again. For this tour, they’re scaling back a bit more; the shows will only be available online as downloads,
but the files will not be encrypted so that they can easily be transferred and stored in any medium you like, be it a
digital player, mp3 device or simply CD-R. The price is down, too ($9.99), so fear not, it’s not a cash-in.

So, there you have it. An unsolicited commercial for Pearl Jam’s new bootleg series, due at the start of their tour
in September of this year. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Pearl Jam’s shows will be available at