By Daniel Tures
Saturday, April 17th was the third annual Record Store Day, a holiday dreamed up by some cool kids in 2007 to give folks across the country a reason to celebrate their local independent record store, and here at Amoeba Hollywood, it was the craziest one yet! Once again, tons of hip bands and artists from the Flaming Lips to the Beastie Boys released exclusive, limited-edition vinyl items available at independent record stores only, which were the subject of an intense shopping free-for-all that looked like a pro wrestling cage match grand slam. Once again, we had fabulous signings and DJ sets and celebrity appearances. And once again, more than ever, we had a store full of awesome folks who know that real music is best discovered and appreciated at a real record store, and we all had a blast hanging out together. It's a great holiday for a great cause!
The action started rumbling very early on Saturday morning, when folks started lining up to pre-order the new Smashing Pumpkins disc and thereby get a ticket to their free show at Space 1520 up the street. There were easily 250 folks in line by 10 a.m., so we started letting those kids in a little early to grab their concert passes. It was quite an awesome opportunity for the hardcore fans, since Space 1520 is a really cool little outdoor auditorium and the Pumpkinheads got a stadium-sized show in an up-close venue. They were excited one and all! (Click here to see pics from the exclusive concert!)
Right around the same time another line was forming around the opposite side of the store, a line of rabid vinyl fans just drooling over those exclusive limited LPs and 45s awaiting the 10:30 opening bell. In years past there's been a fairly impressive mad dash for the vinyl bins, but nothing like this! When the doors opened, it was a tidal wave of insanity that swept aside all in its path... folks mobbed the Record Store Day bins trying to get their hands on an exclusive Rolling Stones 45, a John Lennon singles pack, a Gorillaz 10" and the elusive Beastie Boys single, featuring a mystery track called "Super Surprise!" There was just too much flailing humanity to control, so Darwinian principles took over and only the fastest, fittest and sneakiest shoppers were able to snatch the choice treats. It was a wild shopping frenzy that lasted a good hour until it began to subside... even if you weren't there to buy an exclusive 45, the spectacle was truly impressive. And almost everyone was totally stoked by their finds, except for those folks still digging for the Beastie 12" long after they had been scooped. As the Stones say, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, etc...
And that was just the beginning. It seemed like half of Los Angeles decided to swing by, and the aisles were quite crowded with deep-digging folks. I rang up a nice kid who had no idea what Record Store Day was, but he WAS obsessed with old soul vinyl and he bought about 50 classic records from Curtis Mayfield to the Blackbyrds. Once you switch off your Ipod and discover the fun of record stores, it's easy to get a little carried away, and this kid was really in the swing! It is nice to own a little slice of real music history, which is what an old record is.
At noon we kicked off our first DJ set, from Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo, who had written a fabulous book called Record Store Days, packed with photos and interviews documenting the history of independent record stores all across the land. Most music lovers remember the first time they stepped into their neighborhood record store as a turning point in their lives, and this lovely little book celebrates that special experience, and those irreplaceable temples of music that mean so much to music lovers. A highly recommended read! Gary and Phil are longtime record collectors and DJs themselves, and they threw down an impressive all-vinyl set that ran the gamut from under-the-radar indie rock to classic '60s garage to Afrobeat and reggae and whatever else they felt like hearing, and it all flowed like a mighty river of sound that stoked the folks listening and shopping. They even signed books in between spins! They were only scheduled to DJ for an hour, but they were on such a roll it wound up going for two, and I have a feeling they could have played us hot tunes all day long -- they looked like they were just getting warmed up!
Onstage the folks from Family Industries set up a massive silkscreening operation, and cranked out hand-screened Record Store Day t-shirts on the spot! There were 3 groovy designs and t-shirts of every size and color to choose from. For a mere 5 bucks they would shirt you with one of these hip tees, and the money all went to a local charity called the Pablove Foundation that works to fight childhood cancer. The line for those shirts went all day long, and they sure turned out cool.
At 2:00 we kicked off our main event -- Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash, top hat and all, set up in the corner to sign copies of his new CD. We pre-sold 300 passes to meet Slash and get your CD or whatever else signed by the legendary axeman, and many folks showed up with G'N'R t-shirts to get signed and guitars aplenty. He turned out to be an unbelievably sweet guy, and everyone who met him was bowled over by his charm and general rockitude. To get folks in a rockin' mood, Amoeba's own Jason Moore got behind the turntables and spun 2 hours of classic rock, metal, glam and stompin' jams that truly rocked the house. Slash even got through the regular signing line and signed stuff for another 50 people after that! There were lots of young metalheads in line and they were quite inspired to meet one of the true legends of Sunset Strip metal in person.
To close out the day we were blessed by a visit from another legend -- Spinderella, the DJ from Salt n' Pepa! Proving that she IS the queen of the beats, she dominated the DJ booth with a slammin' selection of funk, electro and pop breaks, all mixed and scratched live with original vinyl, like it oughta be. A starstruck crowd gathered to watch a real DJ at work, and Spinderella didn't let 'em down. When she got to the Wham! break from "Everything She Wants," I think everybody pretty much lost it... she rapped a little on the mic too and reminded everyone that real record stores are where real music lovers get their stuff. And she brought so much real, that it was hard to argue. A fabulously funky set to close out a pretty overwhelming day. It was a lot of love, and a lot of running around and restocking stuff, but it's always nice to get so many cool people together under one roof doing what they love. See you next year for RECORD STORE DAY 2011!!!