Remember when R.E.M. rocked the 688 Club?

Recently released three-decade old concert performance footage from Midtown's legendary and long gone alternative music club showcases Rock and Rock Hall of Fame band before its first EP had been released.

Time for a trip in the Midtown Patch time machine as we take it back more than three decades to peek at recently released R.E.M. performance footage from Midtown's legendary and long gone, 688 Club.

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”
9. “Narrator”
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.

Chris Murphy January 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Saw a few performances at 688, but being an aging hippie (all of 27 when I moved here in '81), a lot of the music scene at the club wasn't my cup of tea. Rockin' place, sho 'nuff, a friend from college (SUNY-Binghamton), Paul Grey, had a hot band that played there, the Lipstick Stains. He and I had not only shared college history, but I learned of his band through a girlfriend we both dated (how weird is that? Or her? Or us??). Did see REM in Athens, back then. I wonder how many 'regulars' of the place will comment, as I'd figure they'd have a lot of (party) mileage on them by now, and they wouldn't be highway miles!
Melissa January 27, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I have fond memories of both, having gone to school at UGA and partying at 688 on the weekends. I remember when REM opened for the Brains at Memorial Hall in Athens. Back then they didn't have many original songs, so they played covers of "Secret Agent Man" and "Last Train to Clarksville". 688 club was fantastic, except for their plumbing issues The toilets always overflowed. We drove from Athens to see the Plastics a punk band from Japan the night before our graduation.
Chris Murphy January 28, 2013 at 11:37 AM
@Melissa- they did do a good Secret Agent Man, though!


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