Pearl Jam

Embarrassed by the worldwide success of its 11-million-selling debut, Pearl Jam has become increasingly anti-social; the formerly radio-friendly unit-shifter is now lucky to go gold with its new releases. Some of that has to do with PJ’s own reclusive nature — its limelight-avoidance tactics have stifled CD sales. But the Seattle quintet’s slide into semi-obscurity is also the result of tempering its commercial urges and issuing records that dare listeners to find a hook. The group’s critics have become more vocal over the years — Eddie Vedder and company are scorned by hipsters and heshers alike. Those naysayers probably haven’t caught the group in concert, where it remains one of rock’s most potent live acts. Granted, Vedder no longer swings from the rafters with the crowd-surfing abandon of yesteryear, but his powerful baritone and commanding stage presence still make for a breathtaking evening under the stars.

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