Over the weekend, an all-star lineup of musicians came together in honor of Portland-based singer, songwriter and omnipresent sideman Scott McCaughey, who suffered a stroke in November. Going into the benefit shows, at Star Theater on Friday and Wonder Ballroom the following night, it seemed like something big could happen, given the lineup, especially on Saturday—performers included the Decemberists, James Mercer of the Shins and an even more super version of Portland supergroup Filthy Friends, which features R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Sleater-Kinney singer Corin Tucker.
Sure enough, the evening ended up being pretty special. The Decemberists debuted "Ben Franklin's Song," a new song with lyrics written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Later, Parks and Recreation actor Adam Scott joined them onstage for the first time since the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert. Most hearteningly, McCaughey himself played with his Filthy Friends bandmates, who on this night were augmented by Sleater-Kinney's Janet Weiss on drums and R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills.
But the most memorable, and unexpected, moment of that Filthy (Filthier?) Friends set occurred when original R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry hopped behind the kit. Berry left R.E.M. in 1997, and the band broke up for good—well, for now, anyway—in 2011. With three-fourths of the alt-rock legends materializing onstage, the group performed a mini-set of R.E.M. classics, including "The One I Love," "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville," "Superman," "Texarkana," "I Believe" and "You Are the Everything," with the Decemberists' Colin Meloy and Mercer, respectively, handling vocal duties on the last two.
It's not the first time a three-fourths R.E.M. reunion has happened in Portland, and not even the first time it's happened at the Wonder. In 2013, Peter Buck got married at the venue, and various combinations of the band—that time including singer Michael Stipe—took the stage together for some impromptu jamming, but never all four at once.
Watch the clips below, and contribute to Scott McCaughey's medical fund here.