As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in Washington and around the globe, an increasing number of high-profile events have been canceled or postponed. Now among them: the first leg of Pearl Jam’s anticipated Gigaton tour, set to begin March 18 in Toronto.
On Monday evening, the Seattle rock behemoths announced the postponement of the tour’s North American run on social media, citing the risks of convening large gatherings. With the announcement, Pearl Jam became the largest American band to postpone an entire run of shows in the United States.
“As residents of the city of Seattle, we’ve been hit hard and have witnessed firsthand how quickly these disastrous situations can escalate,” the band wrote in a series of tweets signed “Ed and Pearl Jam.” “Our kids’ schools have closed along with universities and businesses. It’s been brutal and it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”
“We are being told that being part of large gatherings is high on the list of things to avoid as this global health crisis is now beginning to affect all of our lives,” the band continued in its tweet thread before announcing the postponement.
Coinciding with the March 27 release of the band’s first album in seven years, the opening stretch of tour dates, which did not include a Seattle show, was set to go through April 19. The tour’s European run is still slated to begin June 23 in Germany.
News of the postponement comes on the heels of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and Austin’s South By Southwest being called off due to concerns over the coronavirus. Aside from those major festivals, the majority of canceled tours have been concerts in Asia where the outbreak has hit the hardest.
“Unfortunately, communing in large groups is a huge part of what we do as a band and the tour we’ve been busy planning for months is now in jeopardy… We have and will always keep the safety and well-being of our supporters as top priority,” read the statement, which noted the band’s “unique” fanbase that frequently travels for Pearl Jam concerts.
While the Seattle area has become the epicenter for the virus’ outbreak in America, so far relatively few touring artists have canceled local performances as cases of COVID-19 — the illness caused by the novel coronavirus — increased throughout the past week. However, Seattle has not yet hosted a band capable of drawing as many fans as a typical Pearl Jam concert during that time. The next arena-level acts coming to the Tacoma Dome are EDM producer NGHTMRE on March 14 and country star Brantley Gilbert on March 21.
Currently, those concerts are set to continue as planned. But in the past few days, a number of smaller shows from local artists, including MoPOP’s Sound Off! battle of the bands, have been canceled or postponed.