R.E.M. at the Hollywood Bowl 5/29/08

On Thursday, May 29th, REM made their 2nd appearance at the Hollywood Bowl. I am proud to say I have attended both shows. During their previous show here in 2003 supporting their "Best of" CD/DVD, Stipe fell off the stage and an Andy Kaufman impersonator joined them on stage for Man on the Moon. Good stuff. This time around they were ready to rock thanks to Accelerate, their best album in over 10 years.

I missed both opening bands, The National and Modest Mouse, thanks to LA traffic - so here's a hearty "fuck you" to everyone on the freeways that afternoon that caused a 50 mile drive to take 3 hours. Another "fuck you" to the LAPD, who had traffic cops around the Bowl but decided to let the traffic lights do their thing and back up traffic for 2 miles in every direction.

The crowd was huge. I didn't see an empty seat in the house. I also didn't see any minorities. A crowd of 17,000 white people in LA is unheard of. This must be what its like to live in Minnesota. There were white people of all stripes: old, young, short, tall, thin, fat, douchey, gay, high, and even an infant. I'm going to say it, bringing a baby to a rock concert is pretty dumb.

The performance itself was fantastic, once they turned up the volume. The sound was down for the first four songs or so and the crowd was chanting for them to turn it up - which they did. The brief sound-fart aside, this was easily better than the 2003 show, largely thanks to the rock-heavy set list. Here are some highlights:

Pretty Persuasion - The boys dust one off from 1984 to open the show. Nice choice.

Ignoreland - Never expected to hear this one live. I've read the band doesn't particularly like it, but its pretty politically charged and REM has a President Bush to rail against again. By this time the sound is up and we're all thankful for it.

Circus Envy - Talk about random. One of the late-70s fuzzbox Bowie style tracks off of Monster was an excellent way to keep the show's energy going.

Let Me In - Another one off Monster, the band huddled up to give us an acoustic version of it.

Walk Unafraid - Since I've heard them play this one live a few times, its moved up my list of favorite REM songs. Like Drive, its one that just fares much better in a live set.

I'm Gonna DJ - The douchebag next to me wearing sunglasses had to leave after this. The song rocked so hard it blew his dick off. He had to seek immediate medical attention. Stipe claims another victim.

The show wrapped up at 10:45, clocking in at nearly two hours. Stipe wrapped up the show by pointing out he was voting for Barack Obama. Me too Michael. Even better: I hear rumors that they may be planning to return to the LA area in October. Check TMS for a review of that too. Thunder Matt's Saloon: Your place for REM news.

The complete set list courtesy of the Orange County Register:

Pretty Persuasion / Living Well Is the Best Revenge / What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? / Sitting Still / Ignoreland / Man-Sized Wreath / Circus Envy / Drive / Accelerate / Hollow Man / Fall on Me / Houston / Electrolite / Final Straw / I’ve Been High / Let Me In / Losing My Religion / Horse to Water / Bad Day / Walk Unafraid / I’m Gonna DJ // (encore) // Supernatural Superserious / The One I Love / Until the Day Is Done / Man on the Moon

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