What the hell is Record Store Day and why should I care?
We’ve got a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite: Vinyl isn’t just back, it’s back and bigger than ever. No longer the domain of your walked-to-school-uphill-both-ways old man and those loft-dwelling “hipsters” down the block, vinyl is projected ship to 40 million units in 2017, accounting for over $1 billion dollar in sales—a figure it topped only once in its post-disco heyday. And while those are eye-watering numbers for a format that was all but extinct a decade ago, a massive portion of them are going to happen this Saturday between 8am and 8pm.
Why? Well, because it’s Record Store Day, of course, a worldwide wax-waving fiascopalooza that is set to turn your local music shop into a Black Friday Best Buy. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s OK. If you suddenly feel the urge to scream “WHAT YEAR IS IT!?” into a passerby’s face, resist it. We’re here to help, offering a crash course in the phenomenon that is giving your compressed mp3 files a run, quite literally, for their money. So grab those headphones, hop in the proverbial DeLorean, and join us as we spin this thing back to the freakin' future.
OK. Cute intro, writer boy. Tell me what this thing is already.
Inaugurated on April 19th, 2008, Record Store Day is exactly what it sounds like: A celebration of independent brick-and-mortar record stores that once a year arms retailers with an avalanche of exclusive vinyl releases. Declared an official holiday by cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Record Store Day brings the crate-diggers (and their VERY patient significant others) out by the VW bus full with a treasure trove of rare releases, new LPs, classic reissues, and everything in between (7”s, splits, cover EPs, live albums, and onward into seeming infinity).
But with less than a 1,000 pressings for many RSD releases, plus little to no online availability, the main draw of Record Store Day is also its biggest caveat: If you don’t research what releases your local record store will have, line up like the new Xbox just dropped, and get a little lucky (yep, I’ve walked out with last copies before), then there’s a good chance you’re going to miss out on what you want. Thankfully, however, Record Store Day is not just about consumption, but also participation, with a host of free in-store concerts and musician appearances—this year RSD Ambassador St. Vincent will be hanging out at Rough Trade NYC, for instance—helping to ease the pain of missing out on a coveted prize.
So what can I get and where can I get it?
Both of these lists are LONG, so if you want the full lineup of locations and releases, check them out here and here. With participating stores on every continent except Antarctica, you’re bound to find something within a tank of gas, but releases, being a matter of VERY personal taste, can be trickier. No matter your musical taste, however, don’t fret (get it!?), because we have suggestions for almost everyone.
For Father’s Day
The Doors – Live at the Matrix ‘67
The Grateful Dead - P.N.E. Garden Auditorium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 7/29/66
For 90s Kids
For the Rap Pack
André 3000 – All Together Now
Run the Jewels – Exclusive RSD record tote bag
For the Candlelight Vigil
David Bowie – BOWPROMO
The Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the U.K. – The U.K and U.S. Singles
Against Me! – Stabitha Christie 7” picture disc
For Material Girls
Madonna – Dance Mix
Dillinger Escape Plan – The Instrumentalist
Motörhead – Clean Your Clock*
So why should I care again?
Simply put, to support independent record stores and independent music labels by buying awesome music you can’t get anywhere else in a format that will last forever (yes, even after your hard drive crashes). Do you have a music fan in your life? Here’s a great gift opportunity. Are you that music fan? Spoil yourself. And if you just want something cool to hang on your wall or stack on your shelf, you know what, that’s fine, too. Record Store Day is a celebration of all of that and then some, so get up, grab your coffee, and get out there. Happy hunting, fellow nerds.
Record Store Day 2017 goes down Saturday, April 22nd at your local music retailer.