No one’s bulldozing piles of their CDs, but Pearl Jam have been the subject of a backlash since frontman Eddie Vedder colorfully expressed his disapproval of the war and the Bush administration at the band’s U.S. tour opener in Denver earlier this week. During the show’s encore, Vedder impaled a mask of the president on his mike stand and riffed on the importance of free speech and dissent, drawing the ire of a handful of fans in the audience and twice as many conservative commentators. Just don’t look for Vedder to apologize or tone down his rhetoric as a result.
“We’re addressing the Bush administration, not those who are putting their lives on the line,” he told Rolling Stone. “They have our support and our love. People try to marginalize anyone with an opinion by saying, ‘What do these privileged people know about this?’ I’m trying to be as compassionate as I can. I’m not sure how being against the war all of a sudden means I’m not supporting our troops.”
Pearl Jam also refuted press reports that some fans booed and walked out of the Pepsi Center during Vedder’s invective. “It’s possible two dozen left during the encore but it was not noticeable amongst the 11,976 who were loudly applauding and enjoying the evening’s music,” a new statement from the band reads. “Dissension is nothing we shy away from . . . Ed’s talk from the stage centered on the importance of the freedom of speech and the importance of supporting our soldiers as well as an expression of sadness over the public being made to feel as though the two sentiments can’t occur simultaneously.”