Saturday, April 24, 2010

Record Store Day

So, as I sit here giving my Sonic Youth "EVOL" limited edition pink vinyl its inaugural spin, I figure this would be a good moment to talk about Record Store Day this year.

I'm sure some of you have already written off Record Store Day as some sort of bullshit geek phenomenon, and if you're the kind of person who thinks in terms of "bullshit geek phenomenon" and other similar phrases, I'm willing to bet that attitude is right for you. For me, however, I can't help but get giddy when I think about Record Store Day. There are so many things about it that I find exciting, and as I tell you about my Record Store Day experience this year, I'll try and illustrate those elements.

Before I continue, I should probably explain a bit more what Record Store Day is. It's a day to celebrate independent record stores, but HOW this is done is key. Many artists and labels, to commemorate this occasion each year, have started releasing exclusive, limited edition records and CDs that will ONLY be available through participating independent record stores on Record Store Day. It's basically a guarantee that the indie record shops will have a banner day that day, sales-wise, and it's quite the alluring occasion for geeky record collectors like myself to get out there and grab some things that have been released in a sort of "one time only" fashion. I mean, giddy. GIDDY I TELL YOU!

Some time towards the end of March it dawned on me that I was not going to be home on Record Store Day this other words, I was going to be on tour with K.C. I suddenly felt disheartened; I desperately wanted to be a part of the occasion, because independent record stores are a special breed these days...they specifically exist to keep the tradition of collecting and enjoying music in a physical format (whether LP or CD) alive. Many would regard this as pointless at this juncture in history, but I don't think it's ever been more important. Anyway, I digress. What I was leading to was that I wasn't going to be home (meaning I would not be able to make my purchases at my beloved local shop, Guestroom Records)...and that, to participate in Record Store Day, I would have to figure out where I would be on that day and try and find a store in the area.

I wound up at Redscroll Records in Wallingford, CT. It was about a 15-20 minute drive from where we were staying (with some lovely, lovely folks named Mike & Kelly Stuper), and since we had plenty of time that morning to do what we wished before we drove to Boston, I was able to arrive at Redscroll in time to get in line for the day's exclusives.

The line was way longer than I expected. I was probably about 10 or 12 people back, and this was at about 9:50 am (the store was opening at 10, 2 hours before its normal opening time). It should be noted that, at this point, everyone in line except one person was male. Several cars drove by while we were waiting for the store to open, the drivers of which slowed down, rolled down their windows and asked us what was going on. They seemed disappointed to find out it was just "Record Store Day". Again, like I said earlier, it's not for everyone.

I had sincere hopes that there would not be enough people in front of me that wanted the main thing I came for: a blue vinyl limited edition reissue of R.E.M.'s debut EP. Turns out my hope was in vain, as when I finally was able to enter the store and approach the spot on the front counter where all the Record Store Day exclusives were merchandised, there were no R.E.M. records to be found. Copies of both the limited edition Sonic Youth vinyl reissues remained, however ("EVOL" and "Confusion Is Sex"), so I grabbed those, poked around the store for a few more minutes and then checked out. I was lucky I got in when I the time I entered the store, the line had gotten much, MUCH longer behind me. I got a bitchin' Record Store Day tote bag for my purchases that had all sorts of swag in it, too.

I started scheming on the drive back about people in other time zones that might be able to pick up an R.E.M. disc for me, and by the time I arrived back in Southington, CT, I was trying to work out an arrangement with a couple of them. Turns out I didn't have to, because my awesome friend Bruce Chandler from Austin sent me a text telling me that he had seen my forlorn tweet on the subject, so he had picked me up a copy. Radness. I have to wait to pick it up from him when we go to the Kerrville Folk Festival in May, but that's okay. Delayed gratification is still gratification.

After I arrived back in Southington, Kelly made us the most delightful breakfast, and I basked in the glow of the whole experience. Maybe you're a car fanatic and you look forward to the classic and custom car show every year...maybe you are a basketball fanatic and March Madness is your favorite annual event. Record Store Day is quickly becoming a favorite day of the year for me, because the independent record stores, the stores that really make an effort to keep the excitement of physical music (and independent music) alive, have a day to celebrate and be celebrated. We geeks could not be any more proud to go out and be a part of this special occasion.

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