Music nerds swarm record shops

A brief history: The first international Record Store Day was held on April 19, 2008. This day marked a new hope for independent record shops. Every year, the common disc jockey’s recreation center would be stocked with vinyl records limited to release on the third Saturday of April. This sparked a massive influx of customers into shops that may have been on the decline, with the common dependence on digital, as opposed to physical, audio. Since then, Record Store Day has exponentially evolved into the hectic festivity it is today.

It was 8:47 a.m. on Saturday morning, and I had arrived at End of an Ear records to harvest this year’s rare vinyl for International Record Store Day. I was giddy with anticipation, and shaking, partially due to minor consumption of a caffeinated beverage, partially due to my aforementioned excitement, but mainly due to my moronic disregard of the temperature and adornment of light, summer garments.

At first I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were only a few people standing affront the shop’s entrance, and I timidly sat cross-legged on the asphalt waiting for the store to open, which would occur nearly two-and-a-half hours from then. After 15 minutes had elapsed, a lone, bald man in a long-sleeved, gray-striped jacket informed me that a uniform line had actually congregated along the side of the establishment. In my head I loudly cursed at my stupidity, but in reality, I thanked the kind man for his valuable information. I walked around the corner and stared at the crowd in disbelief, my face assuming a horrid expression. I walked to the back of the line in what seemed like a dramatically cinematic dream sequence. I then stood behind a group of friends who appeared to all be in their mid-30s, talking about all the releases they planned to purchase, leaving me with subsequent paranoia pertaining to the amount of quality releases that were to remain by the time I entered the store.

And so I stood and eavesdropped for what felt like ages before my fellow vinyl enthusiast friend’s figure appeared on the horizon. She approached me and we began speaking of many topics, both random and relevant to the current event. The line kept growing like the neon white, pixelated protagonist of late ’70s arcade classic Snake. We stood and waited while the sun shone brightly on our backs. An odd event caught our attention mid-conversation, bringing the dialogue to a halt. A tow truck appeared to reel away an old gray Chevrolet HHR that I originally had mistaken for a PT Cruiser. Sighs of sympathy were expressed through a chorus of hipster voices in astonishment and melancholy of the removal of an assumed fellow record-shopper’s towed vehicle. Shortly after 10:30 a.m., the store’s manager distributed water bottles to the line. Around 10:50, the manager presented a brief monologue containing the necessary rules of courtesy and civility that each customer must follow when shopping, and announced the opening of the proud independent store’s doors. After he finished, he retreated to the front entrance of the store, and cut the figurative red ribbon. A couple suppressed shouts and victorious “yeah”s hung in the air and echoed up-street. I entered the building as one of the first 50 customers admitted, and pioneered through the inviting, tattered doors. I picked up a few free promotional pins, as well as a few well sought-after records. The shiny pièce de résistance my efforts had rewarded me with had been Stephen Malkmus & Friends’ live cover of visionary krautrock band, Can’s “Ege Bamyasi,” on transparent green vinyl. I was contented. After making our purchases my friend and I marched off with our new records in hand to the coffee shop across the street and took a few moments to relax after hours of anxiety.

After taking some downtime, I later went to Waterloo Records, whose line I had been warned of, due to its previously, exponentially increasing length. I attended Roky Erickson’s record signing, and walked away with memories of briefly conversing with an underground Texan hero of the ‘60s, as well as a signed single (and a couple more singles that were left neglected on the shelves.)

All in all, the sixth annual Record Store Day was a massive success for customers and business owners alike. On that day, minute history was made for a struggling niche market, and I am overjoyed that I was able to take part in it. Now I’m just left waiting for the needle to drop on next year’s third Saturday of April.