Record Store Day has begun to take on a religious fervour with a certain, say, "hip" demographic. Devotees begin preparing on Record Store Eve by drinking only two PBR tallboys, and going to bed early at 1am – but not before setting their slip-on Vans beside the bed for easy access in the morning. At the crack of 11am it's "fixie don't fail me now" as they hurry to the local record store. Although they never planned to actually buy anything, still they curse the geeks and eBay profiteers who have already picked the shelves clean of any limited release vinyl allotted to the store. With their v-necks in a bunch, the pilgrim then rides off in search of a food truck and breakfast. This is how I understand Record Store Day to be celebrated.
For me, it's not exactly a holiday. I overdosed on physical media long ago and now own a couple of 2TB hard drives and a few hundred 7"s that I've been too lazy to sell. I planned to participate this year by picking up the latest John Vanderslice CD from my to-buy list, ripping it, and then selling it on Amazon the next week. I'm part of the problem, aren't I? I like record stores – they create scenes and bands, and knowledgeable employees have pointed me to dozens of bands that I might not have otherwise heard – but it's a hard business model to make work. This is why record nerds and amateur city planners around Kansas City were excited to welcome a new record store to the West 39th Street Restaurant Row. By choosing to hold its grand opening on Record Store Day, Vinyl Renaissance hoped to excite the entire community.
To augment the national (and international) slew of limited release records, Vinyl Renaissance booked four local acts to perform. Pitch-perfect popsters The Hidden Pictures were scheduled to begin at 1:30, the legendary Rainmakers reunited at 2:30, the Republic Tigers' Kenn Jankowski performed at 3:30, and at 4:00, The Dead Girls wrapped things up with power-pop that owes as much to Cheap Trick as it does The Replacements. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts meant that Kate and I were only able to catch The Dead Girls perform.
The band played a quick seven-song set to friends and fans at one side of the store while shoppers pushed past each other to comb through the bins of used vinyl on the other. The setlist consisted of tracks from the band's latest album, new cuts (including the notable "Girl in Fatigues"), and a seldom-played cover of "Don't Change" originally recorded by INXS in 1982. The novelty of a "day show" was not lost on guitarist/vocalist JoJo Longbottom who not only censored his "stage" banter, but also frequently stopped to tune his guitar – something, he indicated, that would not have be necessary if the audience were drunk.
Although the audience crossed its fingers and held its breath, the band ended its set with "You Ignited," leaving Ultimate Fakebook singer Bill McShane in the audience and on the wrong side of the microphone.
I considered pushing my way toward the stacks of releases in the store to hunt for the John Vanderslice album, but the symbolic gesture seemed weak at best. Instead Kate and I walked down to Blue Koi for veggie dumplings, and tomorrow I'll just download the CD from iTunes. Happy Record Store Day.