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Pearl Jam to Reconsider Its Ticketmaster Boycott : Pop music: The band, upset by having to cancel Del Mar dates, might do 'whatever it takes to just play' after this tour.

June 14, 1995|CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pearl Jam may have canceled its upcoming Del Mar concerts, but the band vows to play in Southern California this fall--even if that means abandoning its Ticketmaster boycott.

"After this tour, we are going to reassess everything," Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis said Tuesday. "It took us a whole year to plan [these summer dates], and we're not going to go through that again.

"We did want to make a point on how difficult it is to tour without Ticketmaster, and we made the point. I think you'll find that the band is just going to do whatever it takes to just play. And if that means they're going to have to play some Ticketmaster shows, they're going to play Ticketmaster shows."

Because Pearl Jam refused on this outing to use Ticketmaster, claiming the company exercises a monopoly over U.S. ticket distribution that drives up prices, it put together an 11-city tour using alternative venues that do not have exclusive contracts with the agency. A memorandum filed by the band with the U.S. Justice Department led to an ongoing investigation into practices in the ticket industry. (Ticketmaster officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday.)

The only Southern California stop on the band's summer tour, which begins Friday in Casper, Wyo., was to have been June 26-27 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. All 26,000 tickets for the shows sold out in 13 minutes. The show would have been a homecoming of sorts for Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, who attended high school just a few miles from Del Mar and lived in San Diego before joining the band.

But the Seattle-based band abruptly canceled the shows Monday after safety concerns were raised last week by the San Diego Sheriff's Department. At a meeting Thursday with fair officials, the department presented a lengthy report outlining fears of violence at the concerts, which the department recommended be canceled. The Sheriff's Department expressed fear that tens of thousands of fans might show up without tickets and attempt to crash the gates.

Though the Sheriff's Department says it was willing to work with the band in beefing up security, Curtis said the group only learned about the department's concerns via media reports. He added that the band was reluctant to go ahead because a "dark cloud" had been placed over the shows, leading to the cancellations announced Monday. (Refunds may be obtained by phoning 1-800-946-4090.)

The cancellations were especially frustrating for Southern California fans because Pearl Jam--the nation's most popular rock band--hasn't played the area since November of 1993.

"Lightning is going to have to strike twice for these fans," KROQ-FM deejay Gene (Bean) Baxter said on the air Tuesday, referring to the difficulty in obtaining Pearl Jam tickets. The station was swamped with calls about the show's cancellation.

"Why is it so difficult to see Pearl Jam?" asked one fan. "Why couldn't they have just worked it out?" asked another.

The frustration wasn't limited to fans.

"The band is very upset about not being able to play San Diego, so they're making it of their utmost concern to make up for them," said Pearl Jam's publicist Nicole Vandenberg.

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