What do Pearl Jam and Selena Gomez have in common? Nothing – unless you consider they’ll both be playing the First Niagara Center in the next week. Both artists can claim a passionate fan base, but the only thing that binds these twin groups of concertgoers is a shared love of music.
On Saturday, Pearl Jam – perhaps the band from the Seattle “grunge” class of 1991 that matters the most today – arrives three days before the release of the band’s new album, “Lightning Bolt.” Which suggests that the fans who have purchased tickets for the gig are likely to be treated to a healthy portion of songs they’ve never heard before. That shouldn’t be an issue for longtime fans – Pearl Jam changes its set list constantly, and the possibility of surprise is what drives devout fans to attend multiple shows on each tour.
On Tuesday, former Disney star and Justin Bieber love interest Selena Gomez brings her “Stars Dance World Tour” to FNC. Unlike Pearl Jam’s sold-out show, tickets are still available for the Gomez concert. Gomez is touring behind her July release, “Stars Dance,” which has yielded the hit single “Come and Get It.”
It’s unlikely that too many folks will be attending both concerts. I did find one person, however. Matt Shotwell of Buffalo confessed, laughing: “I will be doing the Pearl Jam/Selena Gomez double dip. I just got the Selena tickets today at the First Niagara box office, and even though the guy correctly guessed I was taking my daughter, I still had to mention I was going to Pearl Jam in order to hold onto any rock credibility I still have!”
And yet, fans of both of these artists are passionate about them, sometimes to the point of fanaticism. Let’s break it down and find out why.
Pearl Jam: The group’s 1991 debut, “Ten,” hit big just as grunge exploded. In the time since, Pearl Jam has evolved into a band whose sound is difficult to define in narrow terms. Expansive, emotional, powerful, ambitious, the sound of Pearl Jam in 2013 is that of a band at the peak of its artistic powers.
Selena Gomez: Gomez specializes in dance-pop anthems and pop ballads.
Pearl Jam: The band started as a post-punk/arena-rock hybrid. Pearl Jam formed when the surviving members of Seattle band Mother Love Bone received a demo cassette from a guy named Eddie Vedder, who was pumping gas and doing a lot of surfing in California. They liked what they heard.
Selena Gomez: Gomez first appeared on television’s “Barney & Friends,” then was snapped up by Disney and became a star on the hit show “The Wizards of Waverly Place.” She formed the band Selena Gomez & the Scene and released the debut album, “Kiss and Tell,” in 2009. A second album was released in 2010, and like its predecessor, it cracked the Billboard Top 10. “Stars Dance” is her first official release as a solo artist.
The radical moment
Pearl Jam: Battled Ticketmaster over the monopolization of concert ticket prices.
Selena Gomez: Dated Bieber. Shattered her innocent Disney image by appearing in the more adult-themed film “Spring Breakers” earlier this year.
The shriek factor
Pearl Jam: More of a “Whoo! Yeah! All right!” factor.
Selena Gomez: It is likely to be loud. And high-pitched.
The gender breakdown
Pearl Jam: Evenly split between male and female, generally.
Selena Gomez: Leans heavily female, although tweens of both genders are among her fan base.
Pearl Jam: Since 1991, the band has sold 31.5 million albums in the U.S. and 60 million sold worldwide.
Selena Gomez: In the area of 10 million. Gomez’s most recent effort, “Stars Dance,” sold 97,000 copies during its first week of release and knocked Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” out of the No. 1 slot.
The likelihood of being remembered 20 years hence
Pearl Jam: High. Pearl Jam is widely regarded as one of its generation’s most significant rock bands. The group has maintained a massive, intensely loyal worldwide following for more than 20 years, while simultaneously challenging that audience with an ever-evolving musical style.
Selena Gomez: Tough to say. Gomez is still at the beginning of her musical career. Based on her output to date, it is difficult to discern Gomez’s dance pop from that of peers such as Demi Lovato and Victoria Justice. Since this music is written for general appeal, it is likely to be thrown away when it no longer sounds new.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $66 (sold out)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets through the First Niagara Center box office and Tickets.com.