Unearthed Side Effects Footage Offers Glimpse of Early ’80s Athens

Athens band The Side Effects were just four months past their debut performance (which was headlining the April 1980 party at that old church where R.E.M. also made their live debut) when then-recent UGA grad and future Stomp and Stammer contributing writer Gregory Nicoll and accompanying crew tracked the trio down at a gig at Tyrone’s O.C. that summer, filming bits of their show and soundcheck as well as an interview with members Kit Schwartz (guitar, vocals) and Paul Butchart (drums), with a smidgen of additional live footage from a Halloween ‘80 Gang of Four show at Atlanta’s 688 that the Side Effects opened.

Newly restored from its original Super 8 recording, Get the Side Effects has been uploaded to YouTube in both a captioned form (adding trivia as well as clarification during the interview segments) and a version with insightful new commentary from Nicoll. The artifact offers a candid, if all-too-brief, glimpse into the early carefree heyday of the Athens post-punk/new wave music scene, when fun was the number one objective. Heard loud and clear during much of the interview portion with the Side Effects (who only released a four-song EP – on DB Recs – during their two-year lifespan) are the Method Actors, that night’s headliners at Tyrone’s, of which a few segments of live footage have thankfully also been posted on YouTube over the years: portions of two gigs at 688 (1980 and 1981) and a 1980 show at Hurrah’s in New York City.

Tacked on at the end of the 13-minute time capsule is a postscript recognizing two departed fans – Steven Whitney and Adele Madry – as well as Side Effects bassist Jimmy Ellison, who died of a brain tumor after the band’s demise. But prior to that acknowledgment, after the screen reads “In Memory Of…” there’s around 10 seconds of footage of the crowd gleefully, goofily dancing while the Side Effects play onstage at Tyrone’s. Such scenes are, for the most part, a distant memory as well, long ago replaced by the stagnant coolness of standing around looking bored.