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10
"Bushleaguer ," one of the band's most overtly political songs, written during the
invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The band continued for another two songs, then played another three during
its second encore. To the band and most of its fans, the almost three-hour show
was a huge success. In fact, no one thought anything extraordinary had happened.
Yet over the next few days the band would find itself in the midst of a maelstrom
of controversy, condemnations of the band's politics, and calls for censorship.
The band's singer, Eddie Vedder, had been taking hits from bottles of wine
throughout the evening and the effects slowly became apparent: forgotten lyrics,
rambling between-song banter, missed cues, and a eulogy/song dedication to a
deceased basketball player.
Before the song "Do the Evolution," Vedder made his first of several comments
concerning the war in Iraq, sharing the concerns of a friend who had served in
Vietnam .
Towards the end of the story, Vedder heard a woman's voice from the upper
level behind him shout, "Shut up."
"Did someone just say, `Shut Up'?" Vedder asked. "I don't know if you heard
about this thing called freedom of speech, man. It's worth thinking about it,
because it's going away. In the last year being able to use it...we're sure fucking
going to use it and I'm not going to apologize."
2
"Just to clarify...we support the troops," Vedder said later, during the first
encore, eliciting cheers from the audience. "Our problem is certainly not with
anybody over there doing something that not too many of us would do right now,
not for those reasons. So to the families and those people who know those folks
and are related to those folks and are married to those folks, we send our support.
We're just confused on how wanting to bring them back safely all of a sudden
becomes nonsupport. We love them, we support them. They're not the ones who
make the foreign policy...Let's hope for the best and speak our opinions."
3
After that, Vedder went to the side of the stage and returned wearing a spar-
kling silver jacket and a George Bush mask . The band began playing "Bushleaguer "
and Vedder started to dance. Eventually, he took off the mask and placed it on top
of his microphone stand, singing the song to the eye-level mask.
Later in the song, he raised the mic stand (still supporting the mask) into the
air, waved it from side to side, then forced the mask to the floor by inverting the
mic stand and shoving it downward. Vedder had performed the same routine
several times before, during the shows in Australia and Japan, to little notice. But
he'd never done it in the United States, or since the beginning of the Iraq War, or