When archiving concert posters, you come across pieces that are real head-scratchers. There are things that stick out and rub you the wrong way; you just can’t put your finger on it, but something is a little off. Often, that can lead to a realization that a poster is a fake after a little research. Let’s talk about Mookie Blaylock and the concert that didn’t happen.
This poster led me on a journey that I could never imagine, so buckle up. It advertises a show by Mookie Blaylock on Saturday, April 25th at The Machine (Pier 70) in Seattle, Washington. The thing is… this concert didn’t happen.
Let’s start with the pieces we do know. The band Mookie Blaylock featured ex-members of Green River and Mother Love Bone, the latter of which ended suddenly after the passing of their singer, Andrew Wood, who died of a drug overdose shortly before the release of their debut album, “Apple.”
After his passing, the surviving members reached out to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden to help them record a couple tribute songs in honor of Andrew’s passing. The singles ended up morphing into a full album/band called Temple of the Dog.
Cornell reached out to Eddie Vedder to be a part of the project, which led the other members, Mike McReady, Jeff Ament, and Stone Gossard to form a new band, Mookie Blaylock.
As sports fans may know, Daron Oshay “Mookie” Blaylock was a respectable player for the New Jersey Nets, and later for the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. He is considered one of the best defensive stoppers in the game.
But what did the name mean to them as a Seattle band? Probably not much, just a silly name, which wasn’t strange coming from the early proto-grunge/punk scene. The band played their first show on October 22, 1990 at the Off Ramp. Then, the band opened for Alice in Chains on December 22, 1990 at Moore Theatre (Seattle), which led to them opening for the band on their “Facelift” tour.
They signed to Epic Records around this time and changed their name to Pearl Jam. They decided to pay homage to NBA player Mookie Blaylock one more time by naming their debut album, “Ten,” after his jersey number. So all of that to say, by 1991, the band had officially changed names.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into this a little more.
Mookie formed in 1990 and became Pearl Jam in 1991. The thing to note is Saturday, April 25th doesn’t happen in 1990 or 1991. 1992, 1998, and 2009 have Saturday April 25ths, so those are the only options. Another interesting thing is the show features Tacoma, Washington mathcore band Botch, which formed in 1993. So this leads to a couple different options.
1. Pearl Jam played a show as Mookie Blaylock in 1992 or 1998. It’s possible, but unlikely.
2. This poster is just a troll & the show was just the other three bands. Or a bigger troll this show didn’t happen at all?
3. It’s a different Botch, which doesn’t really solve anything.
Seattle Real World Season Seven?
It’s important to note that Pier 70 at that moment was the home of the Seattle Real World cast. The flyer lists the location as “The Machine,” but no one really knew what that meant. Slowly but surely, flannel-clad folks began meandering around the pier on the night of the show, sizing each other up for more information. Security guards tried to tell people to leave, but they didn’t really understand why people were gathering, outside of the knowledge of it being the Real World Season Seven house.
This small group of fans believed it possible that Pearl Jam (as Mookie) will show up to play a set. Seven o’clock comes and goes and the crowd eventually dissipates. The MTV crew swears they knew nothing about it and even releases a statement.
The rumor was that the cast members of Real World put up the posters as a prank on their fellow cast members. As it’s told, they figured Pearl Jam would cause too much of a scene so they used Mookie Blaylock instead. It stemmed from one cast member telling another that he knew Leonardo DiCaprio. (Spoiler alert: he did not.) To get him back, she wanted to convince him that Pearl Jam was doing a Mookie set and put up the flyers around the area. She says MTV was in on the bit. The word is that Pearl Jam found out about it beforehand and threatened to sue, so MTV denied knowledge of the bit. MTV received a flood of emails about it and The Real World cast claimed their innocence.
But that was just the rumor at the time.
MTV, nor the cast of Real World, was in no way associated with the prank. It was orchestrated by Kevin Zelko and his friend Jake Conrad.
I spoke with Kevin directly after posting it in a Facebook group looking for more information on the event. Kevin co-owned a small label called Huey Proudhon Records, which released the first Get Up Kids 7″. “The Huey Proudhon’s” being listed as an opener on the flyer was just a deep reference that most people at the time wouldn’t have picked up on.
Kevin and Jake thought it would be funny to list Botch as another opener since the hardcore/punk act wouldn’t likely be associated with Pearl Jam. The CTR 4 was just completely made up and “The Machine” was just in reference to MTV being a giant corporation. Also, it wasn’t unlikely for Botch to play a random show on a pier since they were used to playing basements, garages, and kitchens at this point. Zelko mentioned that he kept it a secret for a long time because he didn’t know how Pearl Jam fans would react to the prank being associated with him, but now, twenty-plus years after the fact, it’s just a humorous anecdote.
In summation, it’s wild to think that an unassuming poster could actually hold so much history, especially for a show that never happened. Twenty-plus years after the fact, we’re still uncovering gems regarding this elaborate prank.