Just hours after announcing Pearl Jam had canceled their Wednesday show in Raleigh, North Carolina to protest the state’s anti-LGBT law, frontman Eddie Vedder delivered an impassioned speech addressing the choice at the band’s Monday night performance in Hampton, Virginia.
“We thought we could take the money and give it to them and still play the show, but the reality is there is nothing like the immense power of boycotting and putting a strain,” Vedder said, elaborating upon the handwritten statement Pearl Jam posted to Twitter Monday. “[I]t’s a shame because people are going to be affected that don’t deserve it but it could be the way that ultimately is gonna affect change, so again, we just couldn’t find it in ourselves in good conscience to cross a picket line when there was a movement…”
Pearl Jam’s decision added the group to a growing list of musicians speaking out about North Carolina’s recently passed HB2 law, which specifies what public restrooms transgender people are allowed to use. Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have called off their upcoming concerts in the state, while Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, who is transgender, said the band would still play their May show, but “as a form of protest.”
“We had to make a real tough call about what we would do about the situation in North Carolina. Because they have a law there that broadly discriminates against a whole group of people,” Vedder explained. “[W]e apologize to those in Raleigh, we apologize to those who are going to Raleigh, we apologize to the locals who probably believe in the same things that we do. They have a reason to be pissed, and we’re pissed off too. But we gotta be pissed off at the right people and get them to change their minds because they made a mistake, a big mistake and they can fix it.”
After Vedder’s address, the band dedicated the first song of their encore, a cover of Steven Van Zandt’s “I Am a Patriot,” to the “soldiers in the LGBT community.” Watch a fan-shot video of Vedder’s full speech below.