ARTISTS AGAINST WAR, PART TWO
Pearl Jam slam reporter
BY MIKE MILIARD
Last week, you may have read about some unpleasantness at a recent Colorado Pearl Jam concert, where streams of fans reportedly headed early and angrily for the exits after singer Eddie Vedder violently manhandled a rubber George W. Bush mask during an encore performance of the bandís song " Bushleaguer. " Indeed, it looked like Vedder and Co. were well on their way to besting the Dixie Chicks ó whose Natalie Maines has been cowed into claiming her infamous Bush barb was " a joke " and issuing a written apology (see " Donít Mess with Dumb-Ass, " This Just In, March 21) ó in the scapegoat game after Rocky Mountain News reporter Mark Brown wrote up the bandís April 1 show at Denverís Pepsi Arena under the headline CONCERT-GOERS HEAD TO EXITS AFTER ANTI-BUSH DISPLAY.
" Incensed fans walked out of Pearl Jamís concert Tuesday after lead singer Eddie Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush on a microphone stand, then slammed it to the stage, " Brown wrote in the April 3 column. " [D]ozens of angry fans walked out during the encore because of the macabre display. "
It made for an interesting story. But oddly, Brown had reviewed the show already, just a day before. That review, headlined PEARL JAM SHOW WILL MAKE GREAT CD, contained nary a mention of the mask-slamming incident or its aftermath. Another review, from the April 3 issue of the Denver Post, mentioned the mask, but no mass walk-out; in fact, the only audience dissent it cited was a solitary " Shut up! " that rose from the rabble as Vedder held forth on free speech.
Pearl Jam, unsurprisingly, think Brownís second article is gratuitous and a tad disingenuous. So on April 4, they released an official statement through their label, Sony Epic, which took him to task for his tendentious reporting. " There were close to 12,000 people at the April 1st Denver show, " the statement reads. " Itís possible two dozen left during encore but it was not noticeable amongst the 11,976 who were loudly applauding and enjoying the eveningís music. It just made a better headline to report otherwise. "
" Dissension is nothing we shy away from, " it continues. " It should just be reported about more accurately. " Moreover, as a recent piece about the flap in E! Online pointed out, " Brown didnít note that some concertgoers traditionally leave during the encore just to beat traffic. "
Bottom line: freedom ó of speech and of the press ó comes with responsibilities.
Issue Date: April 10 - 17, 2003
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