“Who’s better?” - how often do we hear that question posed? Whether the discussion revolves around sports, music, politics or pizza, we live in a culture that loves reducing the issue down to two competitors: Beatles v. The Stones, Jordan v. Kobe, Republican v. Democrat. And so goes the debate between music fans over which band rocked it better: Pearl Jam, or Nirvana? But how can you compare the talent of these two iconic groups whose sounds are so distinct yet are both forever linked to the Seattle alt rock / grunge movement from which they were born? You can’t. But what about a discussion of which band was more influential? Clearly, both had staggering early success. The difference here is that Nirvana’s landmark Nevermind followed their lesser-known debut album Bleach, while Pearl Jam’s first release, Ten, was a huge breakthrough success. That said, Nevermind cemented Nirvana as the “face” of a new music movement. Not only did its success help make grunge popular, but it proved the commercial viability of alternative rock in general. In contrast, the success of Ten brought out a host of early detractors, including Cobain, who accused Pearl Jam of selling out with a guitar-lead style that was less than alt rock. Much of this changed, however, when the masses began to see Pearl Jam in concert. The band’s powerful live performances helped establish their identity, and their refusal to make music videos (after Jeremy) -- followed later by their infamous Tickemaster boycott -- further formed their anti-establishment identity.