Pearl Jam‘s sophomore album, Vs., is now 30 years old.
Released on October 19, 1993, Vs. was the follow-up to PJ’s hit 1991 debut, Ten. While Ten was initially released to little fanfare, Vs. arrived in a post-Nevermind world. With the grunge explosion in full force, which helped Ten reach #2 on the Billboard 200 in 1992, Pearl Jam had become a household name alongside Nirvana, leading to increased hype and expectation around Vs.
Upon its release, Vs. gave Pearl Jam their first #1 album on the Billboard 200 and set a new record for first-week album sales that stood for five years. It spawned the singles “Daughter,” “Go,” “Animal” and “Dissident,” as well as the fan favorite cut “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.” Today, it’s certified seven-times Platinum by the RIAA.
While it was recorded and titled ahead of time, the era of Vs. was also defined by the battle of Pearl Jam vs. Ticketmaster. The ticketing giant’s implementation of service fees — which, as Taylor Swift fans can tell you, persists today — upset the group, who had made an effort to keep ticket prices low.
In 1994, guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament testified before Congress in protest of Ticketmaster’s practices, and the band as a whole began a boycott of the company. The summer 1994 tour was canceled, and Pearl Jam endeavored to only play non-Ticketmaster venues. The boycott lasted until 1998.
Pearl Jam followed Vs. with 1994’s Vitalogy, their last with drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Their most recent album, their 11th studio effort, is 2020’s Gigaton.
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