I was walking the dog today and thinking about REM for some reason. They announced a couple of weeks ago that they were calling it quits. It brought to mind having seen them very early in their career on several occasions. This gig was on 17 October, 1983 at a place called Drumlins somewhere just East of Syracuse. I think it used to be some kind of country club and I believe had a connection to Syracuse University. It was weird because the band was very late in starting and no one was sure what was going on. At some point someone came on stage and announced that Michael Stipe had injured his eye doing something with a contact lens. Mitch Easter’s band had opened up, and when REM finally made it onstage Michael was wearing an eyepatch.
It was a great set though. The band had tons of energy and seemed really tight. And lots of Rickenbackers!
Mitch Easter played with them the whole time as I remember it. At one point Michael asked the crowd if anyone knew what a drumlin was. (I actually knew because my girlfriend Ren seemed to know stuff like that and we had talked about it on the way up. I was too shy to speak up though.) After the show Pete Buck came out and talked to the crowd and was very nice. I saw them again in London at Dingwalls a couple of weeks later. I was chatting with Peter when Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzie walked by and Pete was totally star-struck. It is funny how things turned out, as REM became so huge and Lynott died so young. A very cool memory though.