First, the Portland band Eyelids announced that their longtime friend and collaborator Peter Buck would join them for a few songs at last Friday’s Mississippi Studios show.
Then, their newest member, bassist Victor Krummenacher - whose band Camper Van Beethoven toured with R.E.M. back in the early ‘80s and who briefly worked on layout and design at WW - teased this shot of Buck’s guitar.
And, finally, the payoff: In addition to being joined by the guitarist for songs from their upcoming Buck-produced LP, A Colossal Waste Of Light, Eyelids unveiled a pair of R.E.M. covers.
Co-frontman John Moen (also of Dharma Bums and The Decemberists) tackled “Gardening At Night” from R.E.M’s 1982 debut EP, Chronic Town, while Christopher Slusarenko (Sprinkler, Guided By Voices) took on “Radio Free Europe,” which was both R.E.M’s first single (Hib-Tone Records, 1981) and the opening track on 1983′s Murmur.
It was the first time “Radio Free Europe” had been played live by a member of R.E.M. since the band’s final tour in 2008 (and that show, in Santiago, Chile on November 4, was also the only time they played it).
It was an especially surreal experience for Slusarenko, who was pen pals with Buck - after first writing R.E.M. a fan letter - in those days, before the band had an official fan club (and, of course, long before the Internet). And Buck - also regularly seen around town in such bands as The Minus Five and Filthy Friends - seemed to enjoy it just as much as Eyelids did.
“Having Peter on stage blew everyone’s minds since we didn’t tell them he was going to play those songs with us,” says Slusarenko. “‘Radio Free Europe’” was the first song I ever heard of R.E.M. and it is still, push come to shove, my favorite of theirs. It was a new language to me. The hardest part of playing with Peter was I couldn’t turn around to watch the show!”
Eyelids also covered Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” - with Moen attempting to replicate Mike Reno’s headband look with a bandana passed up fromi the crowd - but Buck opted not to play on that one.
In addition to Moen, Slusarenko and Krummenacher, Eyelids also include guitarist Jonathan Drews (Sunset Valley, Boston Spaceships) and drummer Paul Pulvirenti (Elliot Smith, No. 2). Due out in early 2023, A Colossal Waste of Light will be the band’s sixth full album - and 17th vinyl release - since 2014.
They start a Midwest tour - technically still making up spring 2020 dates promoting their last record, The Accidental Falls - in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 17th. Meanwhile, Buck can next be seen in Portland with Kevn Kinney (Drivin N Cryin) at Al’s Den in mid-July.