Today’s Hump Day Flashback was inspired by an e-mail conversation between myself and the awesomely talented and devilishly handsome Matt Wardlaw. Over the course of this conversation, it was revealed that R.E.M.’s “Monster” tour was the first arena concert I ever went to. It was a pretty mesmerizing event-Madison Square Garden, summer ’95. Several things I remember about the show: it got me to like Luscious Jackson enough that I went out and bought “Citysong” on CD single (although I never bought the entire “Natural Ingredients” LP), I was introduced to pre-“Document” R.E.M. via their performance of “Fall on Me” (which I immediately fell in love with). Let’s see-there was the fact that “Nightswimming” is completely breathtaking when performed in an arena full of people. Oh, and there’s the fact that there were people outside MSG giving away cans of Fresca after the show. It was the first and only time I ever drank Fresca.

Maybe it’s because I came into my R.E.M. fandom relatively late (the first song I heard of theirs was “The One I Love”), but I’ve always liked “Monster”. Actually, like a lot of others, I was crazy about it upon initial release and it wore off of me over time. But certain songs still hold up 16 years later, like “Bang & Blame” (which our friend Matt apparently dislikes. Pssh.) I think what does it for me is the sexiness of this song. The words “Michael Stipe” and “sexy” were mutually exclusive terms for quite some time, and this song just has sort of a dark, dank eroticism to it that touches the right buttons with me. The video is kind of an eye-fuck, but if you can keep your eyes from darting all over the damn screen, it’s pretty enjoyable. I remember this being ALL OVER MTV at the end of ’94/beginning of ’95.

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