Record Store Day 2010

Last year, I showed up at Sound Garden, in Baltimore’s Fells Point, about an hour after they opened.There were a few people in there and some of the more desirable titles had sold out, but I walked right in and found a lot of what I was looking for with no crowds and no hassles.  This year was a different story.  I got down there right before they opened and the line ran for about two blocks outside of the store.  When I finally got in the store about an hour later, there was still probably 30 people waiting to get in behind me.  Sure, I would have loved to have walked right in, but the bottom line is that Record Store Day was a much bigger event this year than last year and that alone more than made up for the wait.

And why not?  With the popularity of vinyl continuing to rise and large chain stores continuing to suffer, serious music fans, those of us who still crave something tangible, are being funneled exclusively into the smaller indie stores and Record Store Day is a celebration of both music and community.  Normally standing in line for more than two minutes is unbearable in our fast food culture, but standing in line with a couple hundred other music fans?  Well, that’s another story.  It was like attending a seminar given on cool.  There was talk of the RSD exclusives, new releases, want lists and the state of the music industry.  It was more like the meeting of an exclusive club, and it is exclusive, than a queue of consumers.

The RSD release list featured some great stuff:  A John Lennon 7 inch box (someone just a few people in front of me got the last one!), a Budos Band/Sharon Jones split 7 inch, a live Hendrix album and 10 inches galore.  It really is a cool collector’s event that gives attendees the opportunity to pick up some sure-things as well as take chances on some relative unknowns.  You could get off cheap with a few 7 inches, drop $50 on two Velvet Underground live records or spend a little more on the Wilco four LP box set.  If your pockets were deep, you could even head home with the Joy Division box set.  Of course, if you were really unlucky, you might pick up the Godsmack 7 inch, surely by accident, whose inclusion still seems puzzling.

One peculiarity, perhaps even a hassle, is that not every store has every release.  One thing on my list was No Idea Records’ contribution, the blue vinyl Hot Water Music – Live in Chicago 7 inch.  But RSD organizers are wise.  While Sound Garden didn’t have this one, I headed up to Towson’s Celebrated Summer Records, a store I’d intended to visit dozens of times, yet hadn’t, and found a punk and hardcore haven hidden away in a store the size of my living room.  So, RSD works.  It not only gets us out to the independent record stores, but gets us into ones we’d never been in before.

All in all, Record Store Day is a great way to remind us that music is ultimately about people; it’s a social experience, even for an old curmudgeon like me.  God, I love music!

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