Pearl Jam Writes Its Own Ticket

People are sniping at Pearl Jam because their chosen alternative to Ticketmaster–a California company called ETM–will add a $2.45-per-ticket surcharge. The band’s much noted holy war against that monopolistic ticket agency was sparked last year over the company’s refusal to charge less than $2.50 for the group’s ultimately canceled tour. “I can’t believe this whole last year was for a nickel,” a local Ticketmaster official recently groused in the Trib.

Well, wait a minute. First and foremost, ETM is not Ticketmaster, a company whose anticompetitive practices and frequently exorbitant fees are the subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation. Second, ETM doesn’t have Ticketmaster’s economies of volume behind it; in that perspective alone, the fact that they can beat Ticketmaster’s price is impressive.

Third, note that ETM’s $2.45 includes a 40-cent mailing fee; Ticketmaster tacks on at least another $2 per order for mailing. Fourth, ETM will print the service charges on the ticket, which Ticketmaster claims to do but actually doesn’t; and ETM isn’t picking up bucks on the side by putting advertising on the ticket.

The only bad thing about the whole deal is that, to avoid Ticketmaster-only arenas, Pearl Jam will perform this summer in some unusual places. In effect, the band will be making fans bear some of the burden of its war with the agency–one thinks about the security problems and demands on facilities when tens of thousands of people converge on a nontraditional venue. If a tragedy occurs, Ticketmaster’s sins will seem small by comparison.

Albini Non Fini

After having been made the scapegoat for a never-fully-explained dispute between Nirvana and its record company over the sound of In Utero, producer Steve Albini complained that the affair cost him his lucrative major-label production assignments. However, the drought may now be over.

“Underground alternative producer Steve Albini is at work again,” reads a press release from Ichiban records, “this time with Ichiban International recording artists the Fleshtones [the decade-and-a-half-old New York garage-pop band]. They’re due to enter his Chicago studio, Electrical Audio Recordings, in June. [Albini] was approached by Peter Zaremba, of the Fleshtones, to be part of this project. Very into the idea, Albini checked his schedule and was free at the appropriate time. Recording is slated to start around May 8.”

Pet Rock

A shot-in-the dark letter from the Tree House Animal Foundation to Walter Salas-Humara, the talented songwriter who fronts the Silos, was the catalyst for the band’s headlining a benefit for the foundation. Filling out the show are three interconnected bands, the Vulgar Boatmen, which Salas-Humara founded some years ago; the Mary Janes, a Boatmen offshoot from Indianapolis; and Chicago’s Michael Hall, who used to play in the Setters with Salas-Humara in Austin. The show, dubbed “Pet Rock,” is set for Thursday, April 13 at Metro, 7:30 PM. It’s $15.

A Correction

To save harried Sun-Times editors a little work, Hitsville has agreed to print the following correction: “In Jae-Ha Kim’s April 9 interview with Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, a number of incorrect and misleading statements were made. The song ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ appears on the Del Amitri album Waking Hours, not Change Everything. Second, Waking Hours came out in 1989, not 1990, as was stated in the story; since Change Everything came out three years later, it was incorrect to say that it ‘quickly followed’ Waking Hours.

“Given that time period and the fact that the band’s unmentioned first album came out four years before Waking Hours, the article’s thesis–that an unusual three-year hiatus had transpired between Change Everything and the new Twisted–is somewhat problematic. And even if it weren’t, Currie’s explanation–‘Our record company asked us to wait till 1995 to release the album because that’s when they wanted it out’–was unacceptably tautological. Our reporter should have done some reporting on the matter.

“Finally, describing Currie’s voice as an ‘alto baritone/tenor’ was nonsensical. The Sun-Times regrets the errors.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tom Freund.