Bowling, Beer, Acrade, and... REM?
October 11, 2005 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Kingpins Bowl & Brew, in Athens, GA, is one of those "hipster- and family-friendly" small town places where locals of all ages get together. It's got a bar. It's got bowling. It's got an arcade. And on Saturday evening, it had Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, the original members of REM, reunite and play a "impromptu" seven song set in the arcade. It was only the second time since Berry left the band in 1997 that the original members played together.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow (48 comments total)

 
I'm surprised they weren't on the roof.
posted by leapfrog at 11:06 AM on October 11, 2005


Cool -- :) This plays into a long time fantasy of mine: getting a favorite band to play my wedding. Guess I have to become a roadie to make that happen....
posted by bullitt 5 at 11:10 AM on October 11, 2005


now all we need is for Faith No More and/or Mr Bungle to reunite for a surprise gig at my house.

I had no idea REM had broken up.
posted by shmegegge at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2005


They haven't. They just suck on toast without their drummer.
posted by bardic at 11:17 AM on October 11, 2005


What exactly is going down in Athens GA lately? I've been getting this impression that it's the newest 'hip' area. I don't think it's just about REM coming from there, either.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:21 AM on October 11, 2005


it's from all the REM fans moving there, so it's sorta just about REM coming from there.
posted by shmegegge at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2005


...the original members of REM, reunite and play a "impromptu" seven song set in the arcade.

And the hipsters didn't flee?
posted by iamck at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2005


Q: Can an otherwise excellent band ruin every shred of credibility past and future just by releasing two exceptionally crappy albums in a row?

A: In the case of REM, yes.
posted by Suck Poppet at 11:31 AM on October 11, 2005


I think this is a cool story even if REM's not really all that cool anymore. I just like the idea that they got back together for one of their roadies. I just can't see alot of other bands doing that.
posted by fenriq at 11:33 AM on October 11, 2005


i guess they all still live around there. my sis went to college there and said that Stipe owns a ton of bars and stuff.
posted by swinginjohn at 11:39 AM on October 11, 2005


i was walking in downtown Athens one afternoon, turned around while walking, and backed into Stipe. i apologized, he smiled and said nothing, and we both went our own way. i don't think he elicits much sensation there, really.
posted by NationalKato at 11:43 AM on October 11, 2005


i guess they all still live around there. my sis went to college there and said that Stipe owns a ton of bars and stuff.

Back when I much more into the band I remember reading that Stipey was quite active in local issues, especially the preservation of local buildings, and community-oriented things.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:52 AM on October 11, 2005


Also... I'm glad to see that Bill Berry's unibrow hasn't aged a day.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2005


They airbrushed his eyebrows!
posted by shoepal at 12:06 PM on October 11, 2005


Awesome! I love that despite the fact that they're playing an impromptu set in a bowling alley, Stipe still found his chance to strike a rockstar pose.
posted by ktoad at 12:08 PM on October 11, 2005


The unibrow is where his power resides.
posted by solistrato at 12:08 PM on October 11, 2005


shmegegge
I think you're forgetting the B-52s.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:19 PM on October 11, 2005


"What exactly is going down in Athens GA lately? I've been getting this impression that it's the newest 'hip' area."

rolypoly: well, maybe athens's popularity is more of a cyclical thing. 20 years ago, it was all the rage. and these days, it's officially a recording/live band mecca. speaking as one from atlanta, it's definitely been the seat of (what has been called) alternative music in the south. it's ironic that a big football school like UGA is also dedicated to progressive college radio and giving new bands airtime. but often in the south, for a long time, college radio was the only place to hear non-mainstream bands on the air. also, athens, in general, is a really cool, old, mountain town (attractive to artists).
posted by aieou at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2005


shmegegge: don't forget Widespread Panic, Drivin’ and Cryin’, and Pylon, too!
posted by aieou at 12:24 PM on October 11, 2005


wtf?? hipsters in Georgia?!
posted by pmbuko at 12:25 PM on October 11, 2005


Q: Can an otherwise excellent band ruin every shred of credibility past and future just by releasing two exceptionally crappy albums in a row?

Two??? Don't you mean, like, five?
posted by MaxVonCretin at 12:26 PM on October 11, 2005


What exactly is going down in Athens GA lately? I've been getting this impression that it's the newest 'hip' area. I don't think it's just about REM coming from there, either.

Haha...same thing that's been going down here forever. Music and more music. apparently some folks don't know that Widespread Panic are locals, and they are probably correct in not giving a shit but the spreadheads flock nonetheless. You might have forgotten about these guys too. Then there's a little of everything stylistically from my friends the Dictatortots to Liz Durrett, who happens to be Vic Chesnutt's cousin?niece?..can't remember. Anyway..there's always something interesting going on here. And we don't count Michael sightings as falling into that category. Gang of Four played at the 40Watt Club the other night. That was pretty damn cool.
posted by gigbutt at 12:37 PM on October 11, 2005


Does this term mountain town mean something else other than a town in the mountains? Because Athens isn't even situated in the foothills let alone the mountains. Stipe does not own tons of bars in Athens. He has holdings in the Grit (a superb vegetarian restaurant) and he does give generously to local causes.

Athens is a college town with more bars than churches and more venues than some cities twice the size. The food is great, the music is great, the arts are great... it's got a lot of culture.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2005


Hipsters (ones lacking false consciousness) and football fans share a taste for ceap beer. Gore and Kerry didn't realize this, so they lost.
posted by bardic at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2005


Cheap. Cheep cheep.

I'm speaking as a lush and a football fan and a fan of REM's first few albums.
posted by bardic at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2005


And Love Tractor, and Guadalcanal Diary (from Marietta), and Oh-OK (with Michael Stipe's sister and Matthew Sweet), and Dreams So Real. From this timeline of the Athens music scene (which people are trying to preserve). Athens Music is a blog that focuses on the scene.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2005


so has anything interesting happened musically there since 1986? Apart from REM playing their friend's wedding of course.
posted by dydecker at 1:05 PM on October 11, 2005


dydecker, the 40 Watt Club always puts on great shows. and for what it's worth, rolling stone considers athens the #1 college music scene in the country.
posted by aieou at 1:19 PM on October 11, 2005


Come on. Rolling Stone hasn't known anything about anything, at least not in my lifetime. There must be some worthwhile Athens music of more recent vintage.
posted by dydecker at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2005


dydecker: To answer your question - in 1998, Neutral Milk Hotel released "In the Aeroplane over the Sea"

And it was really, really good.

Just when you think Athens is over, it comes out with some thing new. (And yes, we are due.)
posted by lilboo at 1:42 PM on October 11, 2005


And it was really, really good.

YES, it -was- (shit, it IS) really good, one of the best albums of the century, easily! However, it wasn't made in Athens, it was made in Denver.
posted by Peter H at 1:53 PM on October 11, 2005


MaxVonCretin: I was being sort of generous since Monster wasn't what I would call extremely crappy—just more like ordinarily crappy. Green being slightly more crappy than Monster but still not extremely so. Yet it was crappy enough for me to see the writing on the wall. Automatic for the People was the confirmation of all fears and the end of any form of voluntary exposure to anything REM for me.

But, yeah, point taken.
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:58 PM on October 11, 2005


Athens is a great place for musicians - music loving bar-goers that are open to new music, dirt cheap practice space (Nuci's Space is awesome, and for a good cause), and exactly eleventy-billion bars to play in. I'm moving away soon, and will really miss this town. I really have it nice - any day of the week I can stumble a couple hundred yards up the street to the bars and see a band I've never heard of before.

I guess this is a good time for us Athens mefites to unite, eh? I know there aren't many of us, but if anyone's interested in getting a beer at copper creek later this week, let me know! E-mail's in my profile.
posted by slhack3r at 2:29 PM on October 11, 2005


"It was only the second time since Berry left the band in 1997 that the original members played together.

...but about the millionth time since the soul left the band in 1989 that they've played together.

dydecker: "so has anything interesting happened musically there since 1986?"

Well, even the mere fact of Collective Soul (ugh) means that Athens, Georgia has produced more good bands than New York City over the last few years. The last good thing to come out of New York was Sonic Youth, and they stopped being interesting around the time REM did. (Did they have some sort of agreement or something? "Wait until 1988, and then suck?" Chaos was supposed to be next, then came the truth... but, finally, all we got was wannabe hipsterism and grunge emulation.) New York is the lamest town in rock now; everyone there has nice clothes, a healthy sense of irony, a good mp3 collection, and no balls.

Athens produced good bands because it was fun, small, and had good venues. Once you start to attract hipsters, your scene tends to die. Good bands tend to come from places like Stockton, CA.
posted by koeselitz at 2:31 PM on October 11, 2005


Whoops! I forgot Drive by Truckers. If they ain't cool I'll eat my hat.
posted by gigbutt at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2005


shoepal: Well played.
posted by emelenjr at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2005


Thanks, emelenjr. Glad someone got it.

Peter H, I don't think NMH would be considered a Denver band. Maybe Apples in Stereo, but not NMH. I think lilboo was saying the NMH was a good example of an Athens band. (Though, I don't know if NMH qualifies as an Athens band either. But definitely closer to Athens than Denver.)

I'd also like to chime in with I Am The World Trade Center as another Athens export worthy of praise.

I'll also concur that Athens is a strange town with an interesting melange of hipsters and sorostitutes rubbing elbows at watering holes and 40 watt shows. Asheville is becoming a sort of mini-athens and might be the mountain town that aieou was referring to, as it is known as an artist town.
posted by shoepal at 3:16 PM on October 11, 2005


The music comes and goes, but this is definitely a town that supports its musicians, despite the restrictive housing laws imposed by the government, and despite how bad local bands can be sometimes.

check out this blog for 'slices of life.'

But i love this place; you shouldn't leave here without having played in a band. No matter how wretched you are, a good crowd will show.

The other side of Athens is its 30% (v high, even for Georgia) poverty rate, the tent-cities of homeless living on the oconee river, an amazing amount of undocumented workers living? on practically zero wages, and a 50% dropout rate from the public school system.

we are also the only town in NE Georgia with a public mental health facility, which leads to some fun characters wandering into town, striking up conversations with the mono-cultural sons and daughters of Cobb County, themselves floating thru on an ivory bubble for their four-year state education, paid for by the Georgia lottery.

Come on down, MeFi! you'll be just in time for Halloween!
posted by eustatic at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2005


I think it's funny when aging Gen-Xers (of which I am one) start sounding like the aging Baby Boomers they love to hate.

That said, REM really does suck now.
posted by keswick at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2005


I have been a fan of R.E.M. from the beginning. I own the Chronic Town EP on vinyl. I am hardly an obsessive fan that tracks down every little rare release they've ever put out. That being said, I really enjoyed two of the three post-Berry albums (Around the Sun left me a little flat).

Obviously, everyone's musical taste is different. I have some friends who haven't liked a thing they've done since Chronic Town. I have others who think the early stuff is pure inarticulate crap.

My point (and I do have one) is that this whole "at what point did REM begin to suck" thing is a matter of subjective taste similar to all of the "my music rocks your sucks" debates that pop up from time to time.

I know that this whole "my team rulez" mentality infuses every element of modern life, but I can understand it in competative arenas. Music is not a competition, though, so I've never understood the whole debate. Does describing the suckiness of music that somebody else likes make one's own music better? How does one rate suckiness? The only objective way would seem to be record sales, but so many people feel that popular music, ipso facto, sucks.

Help me understand this phenomenon. Once I do, perhaps I will be able to recognize when something I enjoy does, indeed, suck and will be able to correct my behavior so it is more in line with non-suckiness.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:37 PM on October 11, 2005


You suck. Hope that helps.
posted by keswick at 6:04 PM on October 11, 2005


If "Around the Sun" was some band's debut, would it have have been received differently? Of course. "They suck now" is a stance that really gets in the way sometimes.
posted by davebush at 7:34 PM on October 11, 2005


keswick: You suck. Hope that helps.

Well, thank God that's been cleared up. I am going to go listen to Up now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:40 PM on October 11, 2005


Back in the days when 120 Minutes ruled the world, all the cool kids dreamed of moving to Athens, GA.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:59 PM on October 11, 2005


I'm glad someone mentioned I Am The World Trade Center, shoepal (wow, talk about a music-world soap opera contained in one tiny band)...but don't forget Jump, Little Children and Dayroom.
posted by Vidiot at 9:58 PM on October 11, 2005


Actually, Jump, Little Children (now called Jump, or something like that) are actually from Charleston. Though, they may live in Athens now. I've no clue. They met in music school in NC, iirc, so maybe they are technically an NC band. Not a fan, btw. I just happen to know a lot about southern bands.
posted by shoepal at 8:26 AM on October 12, 2005


D'oh! I thought I knew a bunch about Southern bands too...but evidently not. Coulda sworn Jump was from Athens, though I did know that about them meeting at NCAS. ('cause I know more about NC bands than Georgia ones.) I guess they just play in Athens a lot. Sorry!
posted by Vidiot at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2005


Well, I suppose it is all about how you determine where a band is from... (where they formed? Where they lived after forming? Where they live now?)

a lot of bands that are labelled "NYC band X" aren't really from NYC. But then again, not many folks in NYC are from NYC.

Vidiot, were you ever on the Stephinsongs mailing list?
posted by shoepal at 10:43 AM on October 12, 2005


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