Pearl Jam announced its summer U.S. Tour schedule Friday--and it's clear that the band is making itself much more fan-friendly than during the 1996 No Code tour.

In addition to playing large arenas and outdoor sheds throughout the entire U.S., the band will also be using its archenemy Ticketmaster in major cities to, in the words of a press release, "better accommodate concertgoers." And there is even talk of making a "V-word" for "Given to Fly," the band's latest single.

The band will open the Yield tour with a warmup date June 20, in tiny Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Montana. The tour will travel to 32 other North American cities, including Chicago (June 29), Los Angeles (July 13--the first time the band's played the City of Angels since 1991) and New York (September 10). The tour closes on September 18th in Washington, D.C. Missoula has been the site for a Pearl Jam concert before; the band warmed up for its first Asian and Australian tour with a blistering show there in February 1995.

This tour marks the first time Pearl Jam will set foot in some of rock's most famous indoor venues, like the Forum in L.A. and Gotham's Madison Square Garden. The band's last two major tours were handled by alternate ticket companies ETM and FT+T, which prevented the band from appearing in many of rock's famous halls. Tickets this time out will cost $23.

Fans complained that the smaller, non-Ticketmaster venues actually made Pearl Jam more difficult to see and that the stadium shows in Chicago's Soldier Field and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park were too impersonal. In addition, regardless of venue size, fans without speed dial and memory options on their phone had little chance of obtaining tickets.

The new tour schedule is consistent with the vein of Pearl Jam's recent keep-the-fans-happy makeover. Yield has proven to be far more accessible than 1996's No Code, and the band has previewed the album's new tracks both with live performances in Oakland in November 1997 supporting the Rolling Stones and during their nationwide radio broadcast January 31.

Yield's songs lend themselves very well to the concert stage, especially uptempo ravers like "Do The Evolution" and "Brain of J."

Indeed, Pearl Jam has not seemed so focused in years. In an MTV interview last week, bassist Jeff Ament sought to explode recent breakup rumors, saying, "We really love our work."

While many industry insiders are predicting that Yield will turn out to be a commercial disappointment (the disc finished No. 2 on the charts in its debut week), Pearl Jam's upcoming tour is already the standard by which every other summer rock show will be judged.

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