Located near the intersection of Spring and 3rd streets at 688 Spring, the alternative music club had been opened less than a year when R.E.M., which was still a year and a half away from releasing its debut EP Chronic Town, opened for Joe “King” Carrasco in February 1981.
Courtesy of Wuxtry Records of Athens, Ga., (it also has a location in Decatur), this 40-minute concert footage has only recently been placed on YouTube after first appearing less than two months ago at Slicing Up Eyeballs, which "celebrates the legacy of ’80s college, modern and indie rock.”
Many alternative, punk, and new wave bands that would go on to achieve worldwide fame rocked the stage at the 688 Club during its six-plus year existence. And most, as R.E.M. was in this video, were still a way’s away from achieving such acclaim when they played the iconic Midtown club.
Watch the video to hear and see a wiggling Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry rip through future classic such as “Radio Free Europe” and “Gardening at Night.” About two weeks before this performance, the band had made its first studio recordings at Bombay Studios in Smyrna on Feb. 8, 1981. On that day they recorded "Sitting Still," "Gardening At Night," "Radio Free Europe," "Shaking Through," "Mystery To Me," "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville," "Narrator" and "White Tornado."
They would go on to sell about 85 million albums worldwide and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 before calling it quits four years late.
The set list from the 688 Club performance courtesy of Slicing Up Eyeballs:
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”
10. “Wind Out”
11. “Gardening at Night”
12. “Mystery to Me”
13. “Radio Free Europe”
What are your memories of the 688 Club or R.E.M.? Share them in the comment box below.