R.E.M. 1981 concert footage: Watch the band play Atlanta. (VIDEO)
Watch Great Lost Footage of R.E.M.
Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 31 2013 9:24 AM

Watch Great Lost Footage of R.E.M.

It's been a good month for lost concert footage showing up on YouTube: First we got LL CooL J playing Maine months before Radio hit stores, and now we have R.E.M. performing in Atlanta several months before they recorded their first EP, Chronic Town (and over a year before it was finally released). And that's not even to mention the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Elliott Smith set that was filmed for VH1 (but never aired). 

According to YouTube user who uploaded the video above, R.E.M. was playing the 688 Club in Atlanta and opening for Joe 'King' Carrasco. About 13 minutes in, Michael Stipe says, "This next song has two written lines of words in it. Guess the rest." Even those lines would later change, when the song became "What If We Give It Away?"


David Haglund is the literary editor of NewYorker.com.