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May 1980 'Red and Black' Articles

Red and Black
Publication Date: 
May 15, 1980 and May 20, 1980

           I attached two more articles and attached them together because I thought they really did go together. As if the first time that R.E.M. played with the Brains they were not the better band but they again backed it up the second time.

            Of course the questions that you have to ask yourself after reading this was, did Ginger Schulman actually shoot herself and who in the hell would think that R.E.M. Trivia would include R.E.M. taking the place of The Guess Who.

            These articles are important for, 1) they built a name for the band early on and 2) could help promote them to anyone that had not seen them. Being described as the best band in Athens 2 months into their inception is quite a statement, especially for the bands that were in Athens at the time. Think about it this way, if some noname band in Seattle was called the best band in the city in 1992 what would you think?
15th May 1980 – The Red and Black
Brains, R.E.M. star tonight in Union’s only spring show
By Bobby Byrd, Entertainment editor

The Brains, a rapidly rising new wave band from Atlanta, and R.E.M., and impressive new rock group from Athens, will appear in concert tonight at Legion Field, in a show sponsored by the University Union.  Showtime is 7 p.m., and admission is free.
Tonight’s bill is the same pairing that played Tyrone’s O.C. on May 6 to a packed house.  The show replaced the scheduled appearance by The Guess Who.
The Brains – keyboardist-singer-songwriter Tom Gray, guitarist Rick Price, bassist Bryan Smithwick and drummer Charles Wolff – began their brief rise to popular acclaim in early 1978, as Price’s guitar licks were added to Gray’s keyboard tapes.  They built a loyal following in Atlanta, and released a homemade single, “Money Changes Everything”, which was selected as the outstanding independently produced single of 1979 by the critics of  New York’s Village Voice.
Earlier this year, the band released The Brains, their debut LP on Mercury Records.  Within days they were booked to open for The Kinks on a tour of the Northeast, and the album has since drawn critical and popular acclaim.
However, on May 6 at Tyrone’s, the night belonged to R.E.M., a band making only its third public appearance.   While The Brains struggled with severe sound problems, R.E.M. won the crowd over with a manic set of rock and roll gems, spanning the range from British Invasion pop to rhythm and blues.
R.E.M.’s fourth public appearance in their two month existence, Tuesday night at Tyrone’s, was also a success, as a standing room audience danced to “Shakin’ All Over” and other favourites.
R.E.M. (which stands for Rapid Eye Movement) is propelled by Michael Stipe, the group’s 20 year old lead singer.  Rounding out the lineup are Pete Buck on guitar, Bill Berry on drums and Mike Mills on bass and harmonies.
If the show comes off as planned, it will be the first Legion Field show not be rained out (or cancelled due to the threat of the same) in almost two years, since the Oconee Concert of May 1978.
In the event of rain, the concert will be moved to Memorial Hall.  Ginger Schulman, coordinator of the  Union’s Variety division, which is presenting the show, has promised to shoot herself if the show is moved indoors.  (A final note: as we go to press, it is indeed raining in Athens.)
20th May 1980 – The Red and Black

Packed house agrees that R.E.M. was the real headliner

By Kevin Bicknell, Staff writer
If rock concerts were rated like baseball games, the score for the two Brains–R.E.M. concerts presented in as many weeks would read R.E.M. 2, Brains 0.  The concert at Memorial Hall Thursday was essentially a replay of the May 6 show at Tyrone’s O.C.  R.E.M. was that good, The Brains were that bad.
Still, if The Brains were a losing team, they would have good reason to say “We wuz robbed”.
The show was originally scheduled for Legion Field, barring rain.  However, through a combination of bad planning and lack of communication on the part of both the  Union and The Brains’ management the show was moved to Memorial although rainfall was nil.  (See “Why Memorial Hall?”)  The result was that The Brains’ very real sound problems were exaggerated by putting them in a hall with acoustics like a garage band.  Their performance was doomed from the start.
Still, the murkiness of the sound cannot be entirely blamed on the ballroom.  The Brains’ apparent inability to come up with a decent sound mix is on of the more frustrating aspects if this band.
I don’t believe I have ever seen a band that was so good on vinyl give such a lousy shows.  Even the best songs, such as “Money Changes Everything”, “Gold Dust Kids” and the usually majestic “Treason” were buried alive in turgid arrangements.  There was no sense trying to dance (most of the people on the floor were just watching), as it was impossible to cut through the sludge.  For once the self-indulgent “In The Night” was not an aberration.  It seemed to define the group’s sound.  The band seemed to be working hard, but the music was just so much sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I still love The Brains album, and they have at least the potential to become a great band.  However, of the group were playing here tomorrow, I’d miss them.
On the other hand, I’d see R.E.M. anywhere.  Call it a miracle, but the band, on their fourth appearance after being together for only two months, took Memorial by storm, turning in their finest performance to date.  Right now, the group is the best in  Athens, and they just keep getting better.
Pete Buck’s guitar style encompasses surf music, the British Invasion and power pop and still comes out sounding unique.  Mike Mills on bass and Bill Berry on drums are one of those rhythm sections that could be anyone simply because they give such expert backing.
And Michael Stipe is amazing.   With a vocal style that seems learned from Buddy Holly’s hiccups and a stage presence reminiscent of the Incredible Throbs’ Jonny Hibbert in his best moments, Stipe was unstoppable.  The band as a whole seemed to be putting out more, while never once looking as if they weren’t having the time of their lives.
The Brains have a booking agency, a contract with a major label, and an album in the stores.  R.E.M. doesn’t even have a manager.  On Thursday none of that mattered.  When the last song was played, it was obvious which of the bands was merely “promising” and which one was great.
Why Memorial Hall?

The Brains’ show was the latest in a two-year string of Legion Field concerts to be moved to Memorial Hall.  According to Ginger Schulman, co-ordinator of the Union’s Variety division, the  Union was referred to Steve March, the “road manager” for The Brains, by the band’s booking agent, International Creative Management.   When informed of the 20 percent chance of rain (which failed to materialize), March advised the Union to move the show, which was done at noon on Thursday, before the weather cleared.
However, March has not actively managed The Brains for the last two months, according to the Union.  No one presently with the band was consulted before the change of venue was made.
Also, the Union decided Monday afternoon to move tonight’s Bobby “Blue” Band concert, scheduled for Legion, to Memorial, because of the recent rain.