Sunday, April 21, 2013

Clearly Metro does not appreciate Record Store Day

I hope that everyone got out and enjoyed Record Store Day 2013. I had a wonderful RSD although a very different one from what I've experienced in past years. This was my first DC area RSD and the first time I had company. Normally, my RSD trips are solitary events - not because I'm antisocial but because I enjoy going to record stores alone. While I don't dislike company, I tend to focus on what I'm doing and forget that people are with me. Then I feel sort of like a jerk.

Anyway, this RSD I was joined by my friend Anita and two friends from work and one of them brought a friend so really I had sort of a RSD gang. In addition to having people with me for the first time, I was also introducing one of my oldest friends (Anita) to new friends. If I'm not mistaken, it was everyone's first RSD so I'm not entirely sure what their expectations were for the day.  I'm also not the best at bringing my social worlds together - I guess at least I had the benefit of a shared love of music to bridge any odd gaps.

While I love the fact that so many artists put out special releases for the day, I go to support local stores and fill out my collection of albums and CDs. I buy special releases but they're not the focus. You have to get up early to get most of the special releases and we didn't do that. Given that Metro started weekend track work again this weekend (after a month-long break for the Cherry Blossom festivities), getting anywhere early was a challenge this weekend. Anita and I took a shuttle from Clarendon to Rosslyn, an orange line train to Metro Center, a red line train to Farragut North and then a second red line train to Dupont Circle. Then we walked to Adams Morgan to meet everyone else at Smash! Records, our first stop of the day. Normally, Metro craziness would annoy me but it was totally fine. I thought it was super easy to get around (just mildly inconvenient). Maybe it was the excitement of Record Store Day - sort of like a zen state that allowed me to ignore annoyed Metro riders and those trying to push their way to an empty train that's waiting for them. Seriously, no need to rush.

Our start at Smash! Records brings me to the second new element of RSD 2013: celebrating in DC. My past experiences were in Alameda/Oakland and New Orleans. Records stores like Amoeba and Rasputin (where I went last year) and Peaches and Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans are larger and designed for optimal browsing. They also have live performances during RSD (and throughout the year) which make it all seem more like an event. Stores like Smash! and Crooked Beat Records (our second stop) are tiny. There was a line outside of each one and as a person left, another one was let in. It was a totally different experience. I also found that there was way less record store clerk snark this year than last - I had great conversations with staff at all of the stops. It was refreshing.

I have to commend Crooked Beat for their organizational style. They kept all the special releases behind the counter. You looked at the list and asked for the records. It wasn't as chaotic as other stores I've been to and you could actually find what you were looking for. It also allowed people to browse in the rest of the store without feeling like they were in the way. My favorite quote of the day happened here as well. One of the clerks was complaining to the owner about the CD that was playing (Miles Davis) and asked when they could change it. The bag check guy replied, "I've been listening to indie rock and punk since 9 am. You can't sit through one Miles Davis CD for me?" This got a lot of laughs.

Our group went separate ways after lunch and Anita and I returned to Virginia for our last two stops: CD Cellar and Galaxy Hut. Crooked Beat was my favorite store of the day but CD Cellar is my actual local record store and I love the fact that I can say that. I found some great used CDs here to fill in the gaps of my collection and had a nice chat with the clerk about The Dirtbombs, a great band out of Detroit. He saw their most recent tour; I saw them a few years ago. Apparently, they're still making bad choices when it comes to their opening acts. There's a job I would like: helping bands select opening acts. I think I would kill at this.

CD Cellar is a few blocks away from my office. This is both awesome and dangerous. I'm going to try to visit more often and use it as a place to go if I'm having a bad day. It's better to take a short walk and browse through the records and CDs for an hour than to stew over something.

We finished our day at Galaxy Hut. This is not a record store but a dive bar right in the heart of Clarendon. It has become my favorite bar and I thought it was the perfect place to end the day and enjoy some good music (they play excellent music), beer, and tater tots. You can't go wrong with tater tots (unless they're sweet potato tots - I hate sweet potatoes).

The only negative thing that happened all day occurred while Anita and I were waiting for the rest of the group at Smash. There was a short line outside the store and all the punks and indie kids put on their finest for the day. Two preppier girls (leggings, short sweaters, large Starbucks coffees) walked by and one stopped to ask someone in line what was going on. Her friend was mortified by this and when one of the kids in line told her, she laughed in his face and walked away. As they were passing Anita and I, they both made snarky comments about nerds and how stupid it was. Anita's response was perfect: "You can judge me when you wear real pants." This should be on a bumper sticker.

All in all, I thought it was a great day. As much as I missed the larger stores like Amoeba, I really enjoyed my experience at the smaller stores. It felt more personal and the staff was more likely to talk to you than just move you through the line. I hope my friends enjoyed their first RSD and will either join me or go on their own in future years -thanks for going with me everyone! I hope the Starbucks girls realize the error of their ways and also invest in some real pants (Anita suggests culottes or gauchos). Most importantly, I've got a whole bunch of "new" music to listen to and enjoy over the next few days.

If you missed the RSD Bad Shakespeare/Island of Misfit Toys crossover, make sure you take some time to read them both. Read Bad Shakespeare's list here and my list over on Bad Shakespeare's blog.

All released in 1979! Great year for music.

Pumpkin approves of my choices.

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