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Vinyl Nerds Are Nice: Record Store Day 2014

If you’re a record geek, Record Store Day is the day you look forward to all year like comic geeks look forward to Comic-Con. Only slightly cooler. What started in 2007 as a way to promote independent record shops has today turned into a global event with thousands of stores on every continent (sans Antarctica) serving up specially released vinyl records, CD’s and in the case of Green Day and Skrillex, cassettes. We’re talking exclusive 45s, live 10” and 12” albums, re-issues and lots of color vinyl!  But for every person with a shelf full of albums at home, Record Store Day presents a different experience…

A VINYL LOVE AFFAIR by Bill Bayne, group creative director

The Popularity of Record Store Day is growing exponentially. But my lovely wife really doesn’t “understand” the popularity in general, or more specifically, my fanatical obsession with vinyl. And that’s cool. But ever since I was a little kid and listened to, “Snoopy vs The Red Baron” on my first plastic, portable record player, vinyl has been a talisman for me. Those inky black circles let me connect with my favorite bands and songs in ways that compact discs and MP3s never could. Vinyl is tactile. I can hold it in my hands. Someone “made” it for me and I get to listen to it then flip to side 2. And in doing so I feel a deeper connection to the music I love because of records.

But when I try to suggest to my missus that my mania for Record Store Day, “isn’t really that bad,” by letting her know that some guys have been camped outside of Waterloo Records for 24 hours, somehow it doesn’t have the desired effect. She kindly suggests that I should consider, “growing out” of this vinyl phase (and I will regrettably admit that some of my vinyl brethren do appear to still be sleeping on couches in their parent’s basement and are more often than not, “allergic” to exercise) and just walk away.

Deep down we both know that my love affair with albums and 45s won’t end, we just need to learn to live with it.

Here are few of my reflections on RSD 2014, with the hope that you too will catch the vinyl bug, or at the very least be empathetic towards my wife when RSD 2015 rolls in:

1.     Know your store. When I’m looking for Soul vinyl (Donnie Hathaway Live, 1971) I visit Encore Records. Known for being one of the best places to get Death Metal records this side of SA, the usual suspects who frequent Encore aren’t looking for Donnie Hathaway records. Conversely, when I needed the Gram Parson RSD lp, of rare and unreleased tracks from his two awesome Cosmic American solo records, I went to Breakaway on North Loop known for, you guessed it, Soul and R+B vinyl.

2.     Vinyl Nerds are nice. Yeah, 99% of us may be out of shape and still living with our folks, but we have great taste in music and we’re really polite to one another.

3.     Analog is the future. The same mindset that has made the slow food movement so popular helps fuel the passion for vinyl and Record Store Day. We’re all lucky to live in Austin where having great things to listen to and wonderful food to eat is the rule rather than the exception.

GO EAST YOUNG MAN by Jack Epsteen, SVP production

Record Store Day is quite the holiday in our household.  Until this year, for the last 7 years, my little guy (Levon, age 7) and I have waited for hours outside of Amoeba records in Los Angeles.  We were both excited for our first RSD as Austin residents.

My theory has always been, go to the big stores, they have the most product.  Which is why we’d get to Amoeba a couple hours before opening and enjoy our “boy time” in line.  Yes the lines have gotten longer each year, but we always make friends, have nerdy conversation, eat snacks and wait.  The same was true here at Waterloo.  (Even gained two new Facebook friends!)

Let me stop here and explain how Amoeba handles Record Store Day.  While the first couple of years were the same mad dash into the store at opening time, once the lines got out of hand and the product offerings became vast, they instituted a great system (also in use at many stores across the country, I’ve heard.)  Everyone in line (and there are hundreds now) receives the list of all available titles.  You mark the titles you want on that list and hand it to an employee, who hands you a number.  When you get to the front of the line, you are handed a bag of the selections on your list that are still available.  Perfection.

We still had fun at Waterloo though.  It was a little crazy holding Levon’s hand as I rushed through the crowded isles, but the product was spread out nicely.  Aside from a few bumps, we did just fine and scored everything on the list but one.

Is Record Store Day for 7 year olds?  Probably not.  However, my son and I enjoy the ritual so much, he’s already ready for next year (and Black Friday!)  I will, however nicely mention the Amoeba process next time I’m at Waterloo for a visit.

THE WRONG WAY TO DO RSD by Travis Waid, creative director

A veteran of three Record Store Days now, I thought I had it down. I had a printout of every release with my favorites highlighted in yellow and the true must-have’s marked in red. I knew when the different stores were opening and had a plan. But there’s a right way to do Record Store Day and then there’s my way to do Record Store Day, which turned into the wrong way.

Mistake Number One: Underestimating the hype. Waterloo was scheduled to open its doors at 10:00, so I figured I would stop by Taco Deli for a potato and egg and a Jess Special and then head over with an hour to spare. But when I got to Waterloo, the line was already snaking around back, down the block and around the side towards 24 Diner. I was a good 300 people back holding my tacos.

Mistake Number Two: Succumbing to impulse. I showed up prepared with my printout of the albums I wanted to buy, but as soon as I entered the belly of the best I found myself grabbing whatever looked interesting and forgetting several of the pieces I was there for until I had already checked out. The list never came out of my pocket until it was too late.

Mistake Number Three: Cutting bait too early. Knowing that End of an Ear opened up at 11:00 I checked out after one pass through and raced over there to pick up whatever was sold out at Waterloo thinking the line would be a lot shorter. It was, but it also moved three times slower and the inventory was five times less. I managed to pick up a couple of albums that I had missed, but it wouldn’t have been needed it if I hadn’t committed mistakes one and two.

In the end I walked away with some gems including Hüsker Dü’s Candy Apple Grey (on grey vinyl), The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live (on red vinyl), DEVO Live at Max’s Kansas City 1977, but just as important, a lesson learned and a plan for RSD 2015.

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