Record Store Day comes but once per annum yet the online price gouging lasts all year and then some. I if want to get my favorite band’s albums on vinyl I’m gonna have to take out a loan! I make light, of course, of a problem that many vinyl fans find frustrating. What was once a day for true vinyl fans has become a bit of a spectacle and an excuse to sell overpriced records to those that will never open them. Similar to how SXSW and Burning Man have been co opted by the higher power of corporatism. But don’t think this is a pessimistic piece because of this intro, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. After my first RSD experience this year I am a believer!
On an unusually sunny afternoon in Rochester, NY on the 21st of April, my buddy ol’ pal of yesteryear and longtime co-worker, Dave and I, set off to visit three of the local record stores in our hometown of Rochester, NY to score some vinyl and meet some people.
Spoiler: We did both!
First stop was the always excellent (and the largest) record store on the tour, The Record Archive. We met three guys on their way out who were carrying big red bags(sold by us!). Turns out they’re from a local metal band Invictra ; Alex, Josh and Dylan. They came out “for the deals” and they all agreed that Record Store Day is a great event because it brings people together who want to share their passion for music. Invictra showed us some of their pickups which were on vinyl, CD and compact cassette as well. What was cool is that none of them came to RSD for anything specific but they all left with music they were excited about; Judas Priest, Extinction A.D., Pink Floyd, Megadeth, Fatboy Slim and more. But our favorite pickup was that of Dylan’s, the world famous “I’d rather be in Rochester” shirt!
P.S. They gave us a copy of their CD The World Game and it’s good!
We said goodbye to Invictra and sauntered (‘cause we’re cool) into the Record Archive. If you’ve never been before it’s quite an experience for not only music fans but those who are into kitsch. Owned and operated by Dick Storms since the 1970’s the place has all the vibe of the past 4 decades rolled into one loud, both visually and aurally, super cool music store. You can read more about it here. Inside and outside there was so much activity; live bands, screen printing t-shirts, food trucks and the store was just filled to the brim with people. It was really an event. This is also where we scored the infamous…. $5 Vinyl Mystery Bag of sadness but also where we picked up the Doc-Oc release Moosebumpectomy: An Excision Of Modern Day Instrumentalization on double vinyl. So, it wasn’t all bad!
Here we got:
A Blitzkrieg Bop
Next up was The Bop Shop, owned and operated by store founder Tom Kohn since 1982.
Tom is an absolute fountain of music information. He can talk music for hours because he genuinely loves it. While not as much of a “circus” as the Record Archive, the Bop Shop was filled with people looking for that excellent piece of vinyl or simply just to talk music with fellow enthusiasts. We spoke to Tom for a short time about his RSD experience and his favorite things about Record store day, not surprisingly the first thing he said(after he told us to edit out all of his swearing) was “community”! He talked about all the best sellers and high quality releases of this year’s RSD which included but are not limited to The Grateful Dead’s – Live at the Fillmore, Sufjan Stevens, David Bowie and the latest Wilco release Live At The Troubadour 11/12/96 that was unfortunately out of stock, to Dave’s deepest disappointment. Tom also said he thinks “this is the best year for quality releases in 5 or 6 years.” And that they(the record companies) should “Give people a reason to pay 35 bucks for a record”.
On our way out we caught local musician/singer/songwriter Katie Preston of Pleistocene fame(as well as many other projects) who we actually saw two nights previously at a great local music spot, The Bug Jar, singing a solo set whilst playing the auto harp that was quite good. Katie was picking up two great records, Neil Young’s ‘Roxy: Tonight’s the Night Live AND the last Copy of the aforementioned Wilco release…Dave was sad. She said that she’s been participating in RSD for 10 years and that it’s probably her “3rd favorite day of the year”! Her favorite thing about record store day is “meeting people who appreciate music” and showing people you know all the great finds you picked up for the day. Again…community is key to her enjoyment and participation in RSD.
Here we got:
Droppin’ The Needle
Our last stop was the most intimate of the three stores, Needle Drop Records.
Sort of tucked away in one of the more unique neighborhoods of Rochester, Needle drop is also the youngest of the three stores. They tout themselves as “Your place for underground music. Specializing in punk, indie, hardcore, metal, experimental, and noise.” And that’s the cool thing about having multiple record shops; there are bound to be specialists and experts that can help you find music that feels as though it’s made just for you. Digitally curated playlists are ok and they certainly have their place but there’s no match for the feel and knowledge of a real music expert and that one on one connection you can get with someone when you’re talking vinyl.
Just as we started talking to Russ from Needle Drop about 20 people walked in that were on a bus tour of record shops, similar to Record Store Crawl, which we are sponsoring and participating in this year. We asked Russ what he liked most about Record Store Day and he said his “favorite thing….. is that it brings ALL these people out. It brings out people who might have never stepped foot into a record store before and it keeps the stores alive. It’s really ALL about Community”. Russ also said he would love to see a lot more of the stuff from the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s that were only available on CD released on vinyl instead of more overpriced represses of records that have always been available on the medium. I, for one, would love to hear the entire Alice and Chains or STP catalogs on 180 gram vinyl.
Here we got:
So, what did I learn from my first Record Store Day experience? I learned that there are no substitutions for going out to the stores and digging in those crates. The people you meet are friendly and knowledgeable and willing to share their time with you. If you were hesitant about vinyl based on horror stories about the ‘elitist record shops’ of the past, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the community that you find when you shop local. Record Store Day 2018 was a success for Dave and me and we would like to thank everyone who allowed us to interview them and take pictures. It was a great time. Now we’ve gotta protect our records.
See you next year!
P.S. In case you didn’t watch the Vinyl Mystery Bag video reveal here are some shots of what was inside. Exciting,No?!
And just in case you like to look at b-roll photos, here there are!