Another Record Store Day is in the bag! We hope that you were able to get out on the streets this past Saturday to not only hit up the local deals and nab the rare song releases, but to most importantly SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE!!
Here are some examples on what happened in both Seattle and Minneapolis:
Catching musicians play live just wasn’t meant to be for me on this day. By the time I got to Sonic Boom, I had already missed Danny Barnes‘ in-store performance. From the CDs on sale for $1 outside and vinyl on sale for $1 just inside the front door, Sonic was oozing with deals.
An employee told me that the sales were certainly up on RSD and that it was similar to Christmas. Sonic put a lot of their older stuff on sale for this day and they also had a huge list of special releases for this day that included Ani DiFranco – LIVE AT BULL MOOSE, Weezer – HAPPY RECORD STORE DAY EP, 7″ vinyl rare releases by Soundgarden (which sold out quickly), Sharon Jones and John Lennon, as well as tons of 12″ vinyl releases. All in all, they released well over 100 rare album, EP and single releases to the public, all for Record Store Day.
The store was packed when I was in there, which is always a warm feeling in the heart. I ended up buying The White Stripes’ new dvd Under Great White Northern Lights. This ran me $17.50. Now, of course I could have found this cheaper online, but I’ve seen a LOT of free in-store performances at Sonic Boom over the years (like the xx last November) that should have cost me money, so for this, I consider it well worth the few extra bucks I paid for this dvd.
I arrived at Easy Street Records in Queen Anne at about 1:30 PM on Saturday. Press kit materials littered every aisle of the store, featuring choice quotes from selected musical artists about their thoughts on the day’s significance. M.I.A was bumping in the background. Posters promoting the day overwhelmed the usual motley crew of local concert fliers and other miscellaneous ads.
However, to the tragically hip-looking group of record connoisseurs huddled in a corner discussing their favorite vinyls and their Saturday evening plans, it was just a great day to be a vinyl fan. In all my times of visiting Easy Street Records, I’ve never seen it more packed with people from all walks of life; it was impossible not to get caught up and join in on the fun of exploring the crate upon crate of both new and old vinyl 7” and 10”. The buzz in the room even had many casual onlookers who come in to partake.
At some point, I pulled aside an employee who took a couple moments to talk of the day’s significance:
Randomville: Can you give me a little info about who you are?
Danny: Sure, my name is Danny and I’m the floor manager at Easy Street records down on Queen Anne.
Rv: So, did you expect THIS much congestion today for Record Store Day?
D (assuredly): Yes. Yes we did.
Rv: How did you know?
D: Well, buzz for Record Store Day has been steadily building, especially in its third year. The record industry started it in 2007 as a way to clog up independent record stores for a day because it’s getting tougher and tougher, between the recession and the Internet, for the music industry….SPECIFICALLY the music industry…to get this amount of business one day out of the year.
Rv: And what does Record Store Day mean to you? Does it resonate personally for you?
D: Oh absolutely. I think it resonates for anybody that works at a record store. I mean, it’s a minimum wage job. Its hard work. It’s a lot of hours. But it’s really more of a lifestyle choice than a job.
Rv: It reminds me of my personal favorite weekend of the year in September when 50,000 video game geeks converge on Downtown Seattle for Penny Arcade Expo. Its exciting for me personally because I can strike up conversation with anyone…ANYONE…and not just develop a decent repoire, but also do that knowing that I know his/her life story. Why? Because it’s probably my life story too. I imagine it’s the same feeling for you on Record Store Day.
D: Totally. It’s really cool because we have our regulars. All of our regulars might come in once a week or once a month, but now, ALL of them have come in on this Saturday. Plus, then you get kids that come in, stop by —
Rv (jokes): And asks, “Uh, what’s a record?”
D: Absolutely, there are kids that don’t know what a 7” or a 10” is or have ever touched vinyl or laid the needle down on it…But I’m also not as hardcore as the people that I work with. I own maybe 50 LPs, 20 CDs, while the rest is on the computer. I personally think it is important to support artists, but I also honestly don’t give a shit about supporting the music conglomerates like the Sonys, the Capitols, etc. I think it’s more important to support the local startups and the indie record labels. I buy up that stuff and sell it back to Easy Street Records.
Rv: It seems like you got a lot of displays set up today. Overall this place is pretty rockin’ right now.
D: Yeah, again we’re in our third year of hosting Record Store Day. We’ve learned a lot from last year and the year before about figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. We have 10% off everything that isn’t already on sale. Over at West Seattle, they probably have live music going on right now. Last year we had three bands go on our stage as well.
Rv: So, as part of Record Store Day, I should probably ask you what vinyl should I consider buying?
D: Let’s see: Beach House, Teen Dream, Surfer Blood, this local electronic artist called The Sight Below, and LCD Soundsystem, which is coming out in a month.
Rv: Last question: vinyl…or digital?
D: It really depends on the lifestyle. And the person. But really, the vinyl is really just a different experience; it’s a visceral thing. You can set the needle down, and there are physical bumps that make it a more tactile experience than a download or even a CD. Don’t get me wrong, I love iTunes but listening to a record forces you to have more of an experience with the music.
Bop Street is pretty much vinyl heaven.
Again, I had just missed Proud Wonderful Me perform, but I walked inside to sweet sounds of punk rock that I didn’t recognize. Bop Street owner Dave Vorhees has been running this shop since the mid 70s and his album collection in the store (he guesses anywhere between 600 and 700 THOUSAND) is like no other. For RSD, he put over 50,000 albums on sale for $3 and had a great bin of vinyl for around $1 on sale by the front door. If a person is looking for jazz and blues vinyl of any kind, THIS is the place to go. Fly here if you have to. Especially soon because sadly, Vorhees has to move his shop due to economic times to a new place up the street that is about 1/3 the size of his current shop. At least they are only moving and not shutting down for good.
But this day was good because he said last year on RSD he had made 88 transactions in about 13 hours, where on Saturday he had already made 96 in about seven hours, selling over 500 albums for the day already and it was just barely 6pm.
I ended up walking away with three records: The Blues Brothers, The Greatest Hits of Eric Burdon and The Animals, and Big Bands of the Swing Years (featuring Benny Goodman, The Dorseys, Count Basie and many others). Total Cost: $5!!
Woo, man! This place was jumping from the get-go. People were lined up as early as 5 AM to get into the store, which opened at ten. There were lots of stuff going on throughout the day, such as free breakfast in the morning, a cook out with hot dogs (both meat and veggie) in the afternoon, raffles throughout the day for grab bags full of CDs and stickers, and arguably the highlight of the day, a live in-store performance by Dr. Dog.
I got there in time to see Dr. Dog play and people were jumping up and down to such songs as “Shadow People” and the crowd-requested “Oh No.” The floors were shaking so much I thought they might fall in.
I managed to walk away with some stuff, not any of the record store exclusives (which were gone by the time I got there), but I did pick up the new Broken Bells album, and found some good deals in the used section, like The Gutter Twins; Saturnalia and Joan The Police Woman’s debut. All in all, I managed to not spend my entire paycheck there, which was an accomplishment for yours truly.
RSD seems to be a smashing success, no matter what town you live in, but I would change one thing about it: How the exclusives are sold. It was a little frustrating to show up in the middle of the day and find everything gone (not to mention seeing a lot of the goods on eBay later in the evening). I heard reports on people buying as much of the exclusives as they can, and then leaving immediately afterward to resell them. You can argue all you want about the merits of capitalism and consumer demand, but it would have been nice to have had a shot at items like The Hold Steady vinyl and Pavement’s fan-chosen greatest hits album without having to arrive at the crack of dawn. Perhaps some enterprising store next year will have a raffle for some of the more rare exclusives in the middle of the day so more people have a shot at them.
All in all though, RSD was a lot of fun for me and I can’t wait to attend next year.