rem.jpgShocking R.E.M. Tour
R.E.M. stormed through town a couple of times this week, first hitting Jones Beach over the weekend, then MSG last night. The Long Island show was a bust for some when the skies opened up and life threatening lightning struck the upper deck of the amphitheater, delaying the bands start. The soaked and scared fans were left with little direction from management, with many bailing on the evening once it was delayed, assuming the looming lightning would keep the band offstage all night. While the venue's questionable safety standards is a serious cause for concern to anyone considering attending a show at the beachside theater (there was plenty of lightning in the sky even after R.E.M. took the stage), those who stuck it out were treated to quite the special show, with the band starting things off with a cover of "Have you Ever Seen the Rain," and plowing through a nearly full length greatest-hits set that went well past curfew.

Back to the Futureheads
It was a bit of a shock to hear The Futureheads say that it had been two years since they last played in New York. The harmonic British post-punk quartet played a couple of last-minute, sold out "surprise" shows this week, one at Bowery Ballroom, and another at Pianos for Brooklyn Vegan's Rock and ROFL series. It was great to have the boys back at it stateside, and extra special to see them at such intimate venues. While they played several cuts off their new album, the real treat was hearing them bring back the old favorites. Their version of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" still stands out as one of the most impressive covers of the decade, and their remarkable tightness and energy on stage is a sight to behold. They said they'll be back in September with a real tour and considering how quickly these shows sold out, it'll likely be at significantly larger venues.

Free Girl Talk
The backlash seemed to begin before the music even dropped, but one of the more popular "DJs" of the last few years released his follow-up to the breakout "Night Ripper" this week. This is more noteworthy than your regular CD release because he went the Radiohead way, asking fans to "pay what they wish" for the digital download. While there are perks for those you donate more than $5, he seems perfectly content to give the music away for free -- especially considering it’s an hour of uncleared samples mashed up together. As long as the one man show can still sell out massive clubs, one would imagine an album like this is merely a marketing tool to get people to buy tickets to his concerts. Not a bad plan.

Also in the past week: Santogold video shoot in Brooklyn
An Interview with James Burke, Director of Summerstage
Is Luna Lounge becoming a Knitting Factory?
J Lo stops by a SI Highschool
An Interview with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan

Photo via ermu's flickr.