Thursday, March 20, 2008

SXSW Thursday - R.E.M. at Austin City Limits, Earbender on Scobleizer

R.E.M. at Austin City Limits

It was really sweet to see R.E.M. down in the trenches working a radio conference the way they used to when the band was just starting out. I must have seen them two or three times in those days, including an acoustic show at Studio 54 with the db's on the bill and at the "New Music Awards" that CMJ had every year. I seem to recall Peter Buck throwing his guitar full force as they finished that set. R.E.M. and U2 were the only bands from the scene that got a shot in the commercial world for more than a song or two, and unlike Depeche Mode and The Smiths, made it to American Rock Radio.

Then they got the big dough from Warner Bros., Bill Berry bailed and I can't remember them doing much glad-handing since.

They have charisma and hits, and when a band like this appears during a conference of bands trying to establish themselves, it doesn't matter that they aren't hot anymore. They look confident, strong, rich, secure -- especially in comparison to the new artists. There haven't been many American guitar bands better than them since 1995 in general, makes them look even more important and accomplished.

Be that as it may, the two songs I saw at ACL included a fresh read of "Imitation of Life," a great song obscured by terrible albums on all sides. Hope you enjoy the video as much as I did taking it.

After the show ended, some dude rolled up on Stipe at the edge of the stage (such balls) and started a live streaming interview over his QIK phone. It turned out to be massive blogger Robert Scoble (, who then turned his camera on me! If you want to know my whole spiel, take a look. I look old from the bad video and lighting though.

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