R.E.M. tonight – a classic concert, the last one from their Monster Tour on November 21, 1995. R.E.M. have dropped off the radar for the most part, these past few years. Since the band broke up in 2011, there’s not much in the way of news about the members of the band, other than occasional reissues and news of past endeavors.
But at the time, from 1980 when they got started, all through the mid-2000’s, they were a hugely influential band and one of keystones of the Alternative/Indie scene in American rock – to quote Wikipedia:
R.E.M. was pivotal in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre. AllMusic stated, “R.E.M. mark the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock.” In the early 1980s, the musical style of R.E.M. stood in contrast to the post-punk and new wave genres that had preceded it. Music journalist Simon Reynolds noted that the post-punk movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s “had taken whole swaths of music off the menu”, particularly that of the 1960s, and that “After postpunk’s demystification and New Pop‘s schematics, it felt liberating to listen to music rooted in mystical awe and blissed-out surrender.” Reynolds declared R.E.M., a band that recalled the music of the 1960s with its “plangent guitar chimes and folk-styled vocals” and who “wistfully and abstractly conjured visions and new frontiers for America“, one of “the two most important alt-rock bands of the day.” With the release of Murmur, R.E.M. had the most impact musically and commercially of the developing alternative genre’s early groups, leaving in its wake a number of jangle pop followers.
R.E.M.’s early breakthrough success served as an inspiration for other alternative bands. Spin referred to the “R.E.M. model”—career decisions that R.E.M. made which set guidelines for other underground artists to follow in their own careers. Spin’s Charles Aaron wrote that by 1985, “They’d shown how far an underground, punk-inspired rock band could go within the industry without whoring out its artistic integrity in any obvious way. They’d figured out how to buy in, not sellout-in other words, they’d achieved the American Bohemian Dream.” Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate said, “They invented a whole new ballgame for all of the other bands to follow whether it was Sonic Youth or the Replacements or Nirvana or Butthole Surfers. R.E.M. staked the claim. Musically, the bands did different things, but R.E.M. was first to show us you can be big and still be cool.”Biographer David Buckley stated that between 1991 and 1994, a period that saw the band sell an estimated 30 million albums, R.E.M. “asserted themselves as rivals to U2 for the title of biggest rock band in the world.” Over the course of its career, the band has sold over 85 million records worldwide
As a reminder, here is their final concert from the Monster Tour, recorded live (and spread out over two players, since it’s over 2 hours long) at The Omni in Atlanta on November 21, 1995.
Play loud – and dance if you feel like it.