The legendary 40 Watt Club in Athens, Ga. — an early home base for college-rock mainstays R.E.M., The B-52s, Pylon, Love Tractor, Guadalcanal Diary and more — was burglarized Friday, with dozens of pieces of equipment stolen related to the venue’s PA system.
Athens police told local alt-weekly Flagpole that the break-in occurred sometime between the 40 Watt’s closing at 2:30 a.m. Friday and 10:30 that morning. Investigators found damage around the rear door, and say the burglars made off with seven amplifiers, eight direct boxes and 37 microphones.
Police told Flagpole that many of the times were engraved with “40 Watt.” There are no suspects.
By Friday afternoon, David Lowery, the frontman of both Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, was offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest and convictions “of the fucking lowlifes” responsible for the 40 Watt burglary. Later in the evening, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills said he’d add $5,000 to Lowery’s offer, tweeting, “Let’s light this up, people. No resale of this equipment anywhere.”
Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, said today that he and his family will kick in another $5,000 toward the reward. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats offered up $1,000 as well.
$5k reward from me personally for arrest/conviction of the fucking lowlifes who broke into the @40WattAthens last night and stole the PA etc
— davidclowery (@davidclowery) July 28, 2017
— Mike Mills (@m_millsey) July 29, 2017
Me and the family will add another 5k. This ain’t ok by any means. https://t.co/uJ35VatmUP
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) July 29, 2017
Count me in for another 1k. The 40 Watt is legendary. https://t.co/AuNP3ykGNu
— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) July 29, 2017
The 40 Watt Club — named after Pylon’s original rehearsal space above 171 College Ave. — opened in 1979 to host “underground events and hullabaloos,” according to the venue’s website, then, once those got increasingly popular, moved a few doors down to 101 College Ave. in May 1980 to open as a legit nightclub.
By 1982, the 40 Watt had outgrown that location, too, and the venue moved to 256 West Clayton, operating there until 1984, when it moved yet again, to 364 E. Broad St., for a period of time. In 1991, the club moved to its fifth, and still current, location at 285 W. Washington St.
In addition to being home to Athens’ own prodigious output of bands, the 40 Watt has been, and remains, a national touring destination, and has hosted the likes of X, Nirvana, The Killers, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, The Strokes, Guided By Voices, Ween, Pavement and many, many more acts over the years.
Below, see footage of R.E.M. performing at the 40 Watt Club in 1992.