See R.E.M. Play a Spine-Tingling 40-Minute Set Way Back in 1981

Out of time: Georgia alt-rockers played an Atlanta club 18 months before their debut 'Chronic Town' EP

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Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

R.E.M. have been split up for more than a year, but fascinating documents of the band's early years keep surfacing. Last year, the band's original 1981 cassette demo emerged online. Now, as Slicing Up Eyeballs reports, Athens, Georgia's Wuxtry Records has made available a 40-minute concert video shot a whopping 18 months before R.E.M.'s classic debut EP Chronic Town.

The video begins with R.E.M. in the midst of covering the late-'50s rock'n'roll classic "Rave On!" (most famously performed by Buddy Holly), and it ends with the band's eventual hit single "Radio Free Europe," passing "Gardening at Night" along the way. The 13-song set was recorded on videotape in February 1981, though the exact date is unclear. The young Stipe's frenetic stage presence is a wonderful sight to behold, and the whole video should be a real treat for any R.E.M. fan.

More could be on the way. Wuxtry, where Peter Buck was an employee when he met Michael Stipe, is dusting off some of its vintage videos and putting them on YouTube. That reportedly includes footage of fellow Athens band Pylon, so keep your eyes peeled.

R.E.M. set list - Feb. 20 or 21, 1981 - Atlanta, GA @ 688 Club:
1. "Rave On" (Partial)
2. "Burning Down"
3. "Dangerous Times"
4. "I Don’t Want You Anymore"
5. "Get on Their Way"
6. "Different Girl"
7. "Permanent Vacation"
8. "White Tornado"
9. "Narrator"
10. "Wind Out"
11. "Gardening at Night"
12. "Mystery to Me"
13. "Radio Free Europe"

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