Last year, I wrote a weblog post about my discovery of R.E.M. A few months after my eyes were opened, I found out R.E.M. was coming to DC. Actually, I found out the night before the concert. I spent the next day at school trying to convince anyone to go with me to the concert. Despite having all the zeal of a new convert, I didn’t have much luck. That afternoon, I was working in the yearbook office–yes, I was on the yearbook staff–still singing the praises of R.E.M. when another staff member came in the room asking “is someone talking about R.E.M. in here?” Bingo. Kelly’s older brother had returned from college bearing new music. She was hooked, too. That night, off we went to George Washington University’s Smith Center.
We arrived fully expecting the place to be packed, but I guess I wasn’t the only one having a hard time convincing friends to come. Smith Center isn’t that big (Wikipedia says it holds 5,000) and the general-admission crowd didn’t nearly fill the floor, let alone the seats. I’d guess there were no more than about 1000 people there.
The opening band that night was The dB’s. They were introduced as “the best band nobody’s heard of.” They were full of wild energy and jangly guitars and I loved every minute of it. Their “big” album Like This had just come out and it really seemed like they were finally going to break out. Alas, that wasn’t to be, but their performance won me over into their small band of loyal fans.
As for R.E.M., can I barely remember their set, but for a feeling I had. I felt like I was watching a door open into a secret new world. Concerts can be like this? It was so different than the slick, organized production that the Billy Joel concert had been. It wasn’t really anything new; I’d imagine it’s the same feeling people had watching punk for the first time. It sure felt new to me, though. This was gonna be big.