Text by Lauren Landes
Images by Pia, Courtney and Amber
Another year in the tiny history book of Record Store Day has been logged! Huzzah! April 16, 2011 marks three years and four holidays since a group of music lovers conceived and founded Record Store Day, and the nascent event looks like its cogs are just starting to build up momentum. The overflowing anticipation and excitement ought to keep us all going until next April, when an even larger quantity of releases will presumably arrive in the bins of independent record stores across the world (don't expect to find any of these delicious goodies over at a corporate retail store, though). As a record store employee, it's very exciting to see so many people line up outside my second home before the rooster has crowed just for some exclusive CD/vinyl/other releases sure to be sold out forever.
A quiet day at Amoeba is still overwhelming enough for a lot of people, and a busy day like this past Saturday creates a very unique kind of energy that makes the place feel more like festival grounds than a record store--the vinyl tents at Coachella and Bonnaroo come to mind.
If only every day could be so packed with eager music searchers and ecstatic, hourly announcements for "Fucked Up," the world might feel about thirty percent peppier at all times. Nonetheless, this is why we at Amoeba get so excited for the holiday whose theme song is the sweet sound of excited fingers peeling thin plastic off a 12" square package.
At the head of the day, people started lining up adjacent to Amoeba at 5am, which, supposedly, violates city ordinance laws, and definitely violates healthy sleep cycle laws. No matter; Record Store Day warrants such infractions, and the surprisingly long line of folks (over 800 people by 10:30am!) were appeased of early morning drearies with coffee and tasties while waiting in the line ride. Special thanks must go out to the lovely people over at Black Heart Records for bringing The Coffee Bean to Amoeba, who surprised everyone with free breakfast!
Talk about a winning combination: Panda Bear's spacious Tomboy LP (plus a bonkers blue companion shirt), a muffin, and caffeine on Saturday morning, all for less than twenty bucks. These are the kinds of deals to be had on Record Store Day.
Among other popular titles like the White Stripes swirled 7"s and Grinderman's "Palaces of Montezuma"/"Evil" were more obscure items, including a Mars Volta Octahedron Puzzle, a DVD by John Leguizamo entitled Freak, and an MF Doom Lunchbox complete with a 2xCD version of Operation Doomsday. How about the T. Rex covers 12" cranked out by the Bay Area's own Ty Segall, fittingly named Ty-Rex? We sold out of all sixteen copies on hand by the day's end, but plenty of Segall's other drippy releases are still stocking the Amoeba shelves.
I love that there are so many artists putting out exclusive, one-off music just for the sake of getting people excited about new, tactile tunes; the concept of a universal release date for musical collectibles old and new alike is shaping up to be a real thing that not even the internet can encapsulate. Sure, you can find leaked copies of Radiohead's "Supercollider/The Butcher" if you couldn't get your hands on the UK-/Europe-/Japan-only 12" (the art for which clearly parallels Sunny Day Real Estate's How it Feels to Be Something cover--coincidence?), but you can only contemplate the endlessly circling, abyssal depth of "Supercollider" before flipping to side B if you have it on wax. If you care about that sort of thing, Record Store Day is for you, and whatever you do (or don't do) with your stuff after you buy it, we at Amoeba are more than thrilled to provide this sort of outlet for audiophiles. (Oh, and don’t fret or pay $100 for “Supercollider/The Butcher” if you didn’t get a copy—its official US release date is June 14, 2011.)
If you managed to get into the store between 11-5, you were probably bombarded by the intense sounds of our three remarkable DJ sets, commencing with LA-native Evidence. He revved up the gathering fans and played his special RSD holiday mixtape that got a gang of people hooting AND hollering for his jams.
He kicked off the day at Amoeba perfectly and signed oodles of stuffs for super-excited fans who he “meeted and greeted” after his set. Next up was the infamous polymath Henry Rollins, who DJs for KCRW and has released a plethora of titles under his own name, Black Flag, Rollins Band, and State of Alert, to name a few.
After a few laughs and an impassioned rally cry for the daily worship of music, the hyper-prolific artist spun California-themed songs to fans and first-time shoppers packed into the aisles like music-obsessed sardines. I heard that when a fan asked him what the best Black Flag album is, Rollins replied, "any of the ones before I joined." Touché. The guy knows how to work a crowd and sign body parts, if nothing else.
During the Rollins insanity session, we sold out of our special edition, silkscreened t-shirts featuring four disparate designs all alluding to RSD in some way or another.
Did you get a chance to pick one up? There was an inverse relationship between the supernaturally awesome glory of the apparel and the time it took them all to sell, which is to say all the shirts were gone within a few hours. The clothing is sponsored by Anti- and Epitaph Records, as well as Family Industries, and each sold for $5-$10 in a sliding donation scale determined by you, the attire-buyer. All in all, we raised $2500 from the sale of 250+ shirts, and it's going straight to Doctors Without Borders for Japan Relief efforts. If you're unfamiliar, DWB is a non-profit that sends qualified doctors to people in over sixty countries whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. Aside from introducing me to underground, Midwest hip-hop and Arrested Development, my college buddy told me about the organization, motivating him to go through ten years of MD/PHD work so that he'd eventually be sponsored by willing benefactors to save the lives of strangers on the other side of the planet. Doctors Without Borders includes amazing people doing amazing things for people out of the goodness of their hearts, and lots of them and the people they help love music, too. Thank you all so much for buying a shirt and helping to improve lives and save cultures overseas. Wear it proudly!
Appropriately, members of Canada's Polaris Prize-winning band Fucked Up kept the beats rolling during the silk screening session and hung around afterward to sign copies of their very own RSD release, "David's Town."
It's a concept record that takes place in the fictional British town of Byrdesdale Spa c. 1977, which is also the set and setting for Fucked Up's new album, David Comes to Life, out in stores June 7 via Matador Records. Be sure to check out videos and past "What's in My Bag?" featurettes on Amoeba.com for some more Fucked Up treats, whether or not you were able to catch them in-store.
As the hours wore on and the exclusive wax stacks wore thin, the atmosphere clarified inside Amoeba a bit more and things calmed down until it felt like just another busy weekend in and around 6400 Sunset Boulevard. The day went by in such bright flashes of activity that it felt like being inside of a highly active brain making music--bridged synapses, lit up language centers, endorphin flow and all. You can probably still find some heady RSD titles on our shelves, but get into the store or call us soon and have your desired titles put on hold before everything inexorably sells out. And don't be deceived by that imposing black and white Helplessness Blues 12" by Fleet Foxes; the two tracks overflow with colorful splashes of imagery and mind-expanding vocal motifs extending into glorious harmonies bolstered best by views of gaping gorges, natural amphitheaters, and the like. The list of amazing RSD 2011 releases literally goes on and on, so try to pick up even one title that appeals to you, if you can.
Hope you all had a great time on Saturday--it was just as fun for us as it was for you! And please, be sure to thank your cashier whenever that lovely man or woman rings you up and sends you off with wonderful things. The relative order and fluidity of Record Store Day would not have been possible without them, and their hard work shows in your ability to acquire your favorite tunes from our record store, day in and day out. Keep on coming over to our house of music, and we'll gladly share the wealth with you and yours. Toodloo for now, and HAVE FUN listening!