Watch a Fantastic Early R.E.M. Set from 1981


The legendary, and now sadly defunct, R.E.M. didn’t release their genre-defining first album, Murmur, until 1983. But they formed three years earlier and began playing out long before that in their home state of Georgia. Salon points us to one of their very first performances at Atlanta’s Club 688 in February 1981, which has surfaced in full on YouTube and is totally thrilling. Michael Stipe looks just about as ’80s as it’s possible for Michael Stipe to look, rocking a style that’s equal parts Morrissey (although the clip actually predates The Smiths) and Robert Smith, and maintaining a constant level of irrepressible energy throughout the set. The whole thing is worth watching, but if you’re just in it for the hits, you can find “Gardening at Night” at 28:45 and “Radio Free Europe” at 34:36.