It’s finally here – Record Store Day 2016. The much anticipated, much debated, much maligned celebration of vinyl and your local indie record store.
It’s been interesting to watch the development of RSD over the last few years as it morphed from a great idea about how to get people to visit indie record shops into what often seems like a creepy dude trying to reach into your front pocket and get his paws on whatever cash you might happen to have at the moment. I’ve read a number of critical articles by record store owners who feel like the whole thing has turned into more of a negative than a positive, from the really little guy who can’t afford to buy RSD product to the store hung with a bunch of crap that it can’t sell once the day has past, effectively negating the profit he made on the stuff he was able to sell. And lets not forget the small labels and bands who can’t get their vinyl pressed in the months leading up to the big day since all the very limited record pressing plant resources are eaten up by the bigger labels as they churn out overpriced, unneeded product. And what about the long lines for shoppers, and the people who start lining up the day before so they can get all the rarest, most desirable items and immediately take them home to post on eBay in search of a quick profit? Gosh, is there anyone left who actually likes Record Store Day?
Well, this guy does to some extent. Yeah, I hate standing in lines too. But you know what? A few years back Holly and I got to talking to the guy behind us in the hour-long checkout line at Easy Street, and today we consider that guy a good friend of ours (hey Travis!). I certainly have empathy for the struggles of the small business owner too… which is part of the reason why I still go out there and stand in those lines and give them my cash, because if we don’t support them and instead sit at home and save $2 by ordering something online, there won’t be any more record stores to go to. Look, I don’t know why the world needs some of these releases… but hey, if someone else wants to buy that stuff, let them. It’s easy to sit around and talk crap about this year’s Justin Bieber Purpose picture disc, but let’s not forget the dude has sold a bajillion albums and singles over the years, and if someone wants that, let ’em have it. It’s their money, and they’re enjoyment.
This year I was excited about some very Seattle-centric limited releases, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on all three over at Easy Street this morning. These included the first 12″ version of Green River‘s 1984 Demos and KEXP Presents: Raw Power – A Tribute to Iggy & The Stooges, a live event played last year on the roof of Pike Place Market featuring an all-star Stooges cover band. But the big one was The Sonics Live at Easy Street, a limited edition vinyl release of the show The Sonics performed at our very own Easy Street Records on RSD 2015. This is the first time I can think of that a live album has been released of a show that I actually attended, so I’m kind of excited about it. Plus Easy Street put their own spin on the copies for sale in their shop, creating their own individually numbered sleeve and including a ticket from the show, a photo copy of the set list, and a few other goodies, which made convinced me to cough up some cash even though I already pre-ordered a signed copy a month or so ago. I can’t wait to give this one a spin.
I picked up some other RSD titles as well, plus found a few used nuggets in the New Arrivals bin including Bob Marley’s Legend and The Biggest Blow – A Punk Prayer by Ronnie Biggs. As an added bonus, by time we arrived about 2.5 hours after the shop opened, there were no lines and we were in and out in no time.
Regardless of how you feel about RSD, make sure to get out there and support your local record store. Yeah, I know that you can usually find something a bit cheaper online, and you still have to make smart buying decisions with your money. But if you don’t help ’em out, you don’t get to complain about how there are no more record stores for you to go visit. Shop local, shop indie.