Pearl Jam performed a private concert at Seattle’s Showbox late last week for a Target commercial filmed by Singles director Cameron Crowe, Billboard.biz confirmed this afternoon. Audio from the performance, which featured a new song called “The Fixer,” had been posted online at Antiquiet, who first broke news of the private gig, but the song has been pulled down “at request of artist.” According to the band’s manager Kelly Curtis, the secret concert was in fact the setting for a Target commercial, and the retail giant will have some hand in releasing Pearl Jam’s ninth studio album, rumored to be called Backspacer, in early autumn. The album’s first single, which may still be “The Fixer,” will be released in July, and Curtis tells Billboard the band is also nailing down deals with an online vendor, a mobile partner, a gaming company and a “network of indie retail stores.”
Like Best Buy and Walmart, Target has been in the market for exclusive music releases, recently scoring the sole retail rights for Prince’s LOtUSFLOW3R triptych. Pearl Jam released their last self-titled album, or Avocado as the fans call it, through J Records, but did not re-sign to the label, making them free agents. While fans might be quick to jump on Pearl Jam for striking a deal of any sort with a retail giant, Curtis tells Billboard.biz, “Everyone’s making assumptions because Target is a big corporation. It’s important to remember we just got out of this 18-year relationship with Sony, and I’m pretty sure they are a bigger corporation than Target.” Curtis also added, “Target was cool enough to realize that little independent record stores are not their competition” and that the band’s official Ten Club will also offer the new album.
According to Curtis, the Showbox filming will serve several purposes, as Vedder will soon embark on a solo tour and leave the band limited time to record promotional footage. Crowe, who gave the band cameos in his 1992 classic Singles, is reportedly filming a Pearl Jam documentary to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011, so the Showbox footage might feature in that as well.
While some lucky Seattle natives got a sneak peek at the new PJ track, the band will clue in the rest of America when they play “The Fixer” or possibly another new tune tonight on the debut episode of The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien. Pearl Jam and Will Ferrell have been announced as Conan’s first guests, and PJ are due to perform fresh music. Pearl Jam’s upcoming Brendan O’Brien-produced album is expected out in the fall, and the quintet are already scheduled for headlining gigs at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival and Austin, Texas’ Austin City Limits.