by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Well, I didn’t have much of a Record Store Day. In fact, I only bought two recordings — one record and one CD — and neither was an RSD offerings. That’s what happens when you get started late.
While I tip my hat to Homer’s for catering to the early morning line waiters with free food and entertainment, there’s no way I was going to wait in line for hours to be allowed to feed at the vinyl trough. I salute the hard-core vinyl collector. I wish I could be one, but I just don’t have the cash or the patience. As such, there was no way I was going to be able to snag a copy of that Devo Live at Max’s KC album that I so coveted. I looked on eBay later that night and found them starting at around $60 (or at least that was the latest bid).
Instead, I rode my bike to Almost Music at around 1 to catch The Lupines performing outside on the sidewalk. The shop only had three RSD products left in stock (including a PUJOL single). Judging by the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd intensely digging through the bins, I don’t think anyone cared. Almost Music proprietor Brad Smith went online later that day to say it was the best day the store has had since it opened.
The set-up for the live music was quaint, with people standing around the sidewalk, a few seated up front and by the grill. The small PA sounded surprisingly good belting out Lupines raw, hook-filled garage rock. It was fun watching cars drive by on Maple Street jolted awake by the noise and then staring at the small crowd of around 40.
If their neighbors don’t mind, maybe Almost Music could host live bands on the sidewalk more often, maybe even once a month in the summer. It’s a good way to get people to come in and check out their always rotating stock of used vinyl.
I didn’t get down to Homer’s until well past 5 p.m. The place was still packed and there was still plenty of RSD vinyl in stock — bins-ful — but nothing left that I was looking for. Instead, Homer’s clerk Chris Aponick pushed a copy of Courtney Barnett’s new CD The Double EP: A Sea to Split Pea into my hand and said I wasn’t leaving without it. I also found a very clean copy of The Doors’ Strange Days album in the used bin, which I assumed was a reissue. No one knew for sure. It’s probably my favorite Doors album (which isn’t saying much), and I didn’t have it so, what the heck?
Chris was right about the Barnett CD. This young Aussie is sort of a cross between Liz Phair and Foxygen, an intrepid slacker/stoner 20-something loaded with clever lines, something tells me she’s about to explode. Get in on it before everyone else does. You won’t regret it.
While downtown, I ran into Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt who was pleased with how the day went down, but said he still had a lot of RSD stock to sell. He said among the hottest releases this year was a glow-in-the-dark 30th Anniversary reissue of Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme (which is now starting at $50 on eBay).
As with anything popular, there’s been a bunch of online articles critical of what RSD has become, saying it’s hurt small labels, that it’s become a scavenger hunt for professional eBay vendors who will turn around and sell whatever they waited in line for to the highest online bidder. Maybe so. I don’t buy the small label whining about how the majors are pushing them out of line with the limited number of vinyl manufacturers, pushing back their release dates. Too bad. Do a better job managing your business. The person who’s buying vinyl from Warners or Sony is a potential customer for your artist’s vinyl. You’ve chosen the vinyl model for your business. Make it work.
As for those greedy eBay bastards, yeah, they’re no different than ticket scalpers, but there’s nothing you can do about them, other than what the record shops have already done — limit sales quantities to individuals and make sure their own clerks aren’t in on the hustle. This kind of problem comes with anything that is collectable and in scarce number. If you’re a collector, you’re used to it. For the rest of us lazy a-holes, there’s eBay.
I personally love RSD. It’s a holiday that celebrates art and commerce and (for the most part) the little guy record shop who’s just trying to get by. I know that having it more than once a year (and on Black Friday) might water down the “specialness” of the event, but I could see this working on a monthly or at least quarterly basis. It’s a lot of work for everyone involved, but the payback is worth it.
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There’s a special benefit show going on tonight at The Waiting Room that demands your attention.
I don’t know who Ralph Remmert is but I do know he has a lot of talented friends. They’re coming to his aid as he continues his fight against cystic fibrosis — a fight that includes an upcoming double-lung transplant. To help cover costs not covered by health insurance, Ralph’s friends are hosting tonight’s concert at TWR.
The line-up is star-studded and includes Orenda Fink, Dan McCarthy, Simon Joyner, Phil Schaffart, Greg Elsasser and Matt Whipkey. They’re calling it an “intimate songwriters’ circle.”
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.