Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has toured the world, played to millions of fans and is a founding member of one of music’s biggest bands, but he still stays true to his Big Sandy roots. Ament talks often of growing up in the rural Montana town, where he first heard punk and first tried skateboarding, and how it helped shape who he is today. Part of that history involved a flat-topped farmer who was friends with the family, named Jon Tester.
Six years ago, when Tester decided to leave the state legislature and challenge longtime Republican incumbent Conrad Burns for one of Montana’s two U.S. Senate seats, Ament arranged for Pearl Jam to play a fundraiser at the Adams Center. The event worked on every level—the concert brought down the house and introduced an energized voting public to the relative newcomer. Tester ended up winning the seat by a razor-thin margin. Now, as Tester squares off against Denny Rehberg in what many pundits believe is among the nation’s most important Senate races, Ament and the band have rallied again to support their candidate.
The stakes are higher not only politically, but also musically. The concert marks Pearl Jam’s only non-festival appearance in the United States of the year. That’s partly why pre-sales were so high through the band’s fan club, and why tickets sold-out to the public in less than 15 minutes. Pearl Jam responded to the demand by rearranging the stage setup and releasing an additional 1,100 tickets that were gone almost just as fast.
That doesn’t mean your chances of hearing “Better Man”—or deciding, in person, if Tester is the “The Fixer” for Washington, D.C.—is over. Secondary markets are flooded with tickets and will continue to be so up until Mudhoney opens the show. They’re expensive, yes. But it’s not often the hottest ticket of the fall is directly tied to the nation’s hottest political race.