In 1982, the owner of D.C.’s 9:30 Club (now Nightclub 9:30) heard of two new interesting bands who happened to share the same name – one a post-punk quartet from the thriving D.C. music scene and the other a jangly band from a college town down south – and decided it would be a hoot to stage a battle of the bands. The challenge was made and accepted. The rules were simple: A coin toss would decide which band opened, and the victors would then rename the losers.
One member of the DC band described the evening: “The night came, and we lost the coin toss. No worries--we went on and played a killer set, got a lot of applause, then retired to the bar to enjoy our victory.” Then the other band took the stage: “I'm a little fuzzy about the progression,” he continued, “but I think the first song they played was Radio Free Europe. The crowd went silent, mouths hung agape, and when the last chord was struck, the room exploded. Crap.”
So ended the “Battle of the R.E.M.”s – the D.C. band included, by the way, Greg Strzempka, the future front man of Raging Slab and Chris Anderson, now Editor in Chief at Wired Magazine. (It’s Chris who is quoted above). Apparently, too, it was Mike Mills of the other R.E.M. who then renamed Anderson’s band: Egoslavia. Not bad! Chris's blog is here.