Sunday, April 17, 2016

Record Store Day 2016: The least metal thing I did today...

Happy Record Store Day! While we should all spend more time at our local record store, it's nice to have a day when we can come together, listen to some music, and buy some records whether they be special releases, collection fillers, or random records that convince you they belong in your life. I'm not saying we all need a Bay City Rollers album but I know where you can get one if you're so inclined.

This year's festivities took us to Richmond, our capital and one of the most hipster cities I've ever been to. This is my third visit to Richmond since I moved back to the area and my first visit for RSD.

The cast of characters:
  • Anita, four time RSD buddy
  • Scott, my brother, making his second RSD appearance
  • Adam, resident Richmondian, Richmondite (I don't know descriptor) who joined us for lunch and our stop at Deep Groove (his favorite record store)
  • The delightful and not at all record store-y employees at Plan 9 Records, Deep Groove, and Steady Sounds
  • A lady walking a pig down W. Clay Street
  • Our waiter at Galaxy Diner, voted Richmond's best diner in 2015
  • The waiters at GWARbar
  • Me, your resident RSD planner - I wonder if that could be a job? You tell me where you want to go for the day and I plan your itinerary including lunch and bars stops. This could be a thing. I could also match up lone RSD-ers who want a group to hang out with during the the Nick Cave fan I talked to who just wanted to share his beliefs on the Murder Ballads album with someone (which, of course, ended up being me and the shop owner).
This is the first time I've really traveled for RSD; I don't count Baltimore as traveling even though it takes an hour to get there. Going to Richmond feels like going on an adventure and getting out of town. If you haven't visited Richmond I highly recommend it. It's hipster-y in really good ways (bars! coffee shops! neat/weird stores! an apartment building that used to be a dairy!) and beautifully old in ways that matter (original brick streets, gorgeous historic homes). There are colleges in Richmond so be aware of the undergrads who don't know how crosswalks work. Other than that, it's a great place to visit and an even better place to spend a day browsing through lots of records.

This year marks the 9th RSD and my fifth. It's been interesting to watch the growth of RSD over the years; it's gone from a small celebration of independent stores to an international movement connecting people together simply because they love music. In addition to the regular special releases, this year RSD featured some special releases for Disquaire Day, France's version of the day. Money from the sale of some items, like Metallica's Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! - Live at Le Bataclan. Paris, France - June 11th, 2003 go to Give for France. Money goes to help victims of the Paris bombings. Several other releases today were recorded at the Le Bataclan. I had no idea how many bands recorded live sets there over the years. In addition to the Metallica CD, I picked up a Johnny Thunders & the Hearthbreakers album from a 1977 show

I like Metallica a lot; not love but genuine enjoyment. I'm not the fanboy my brother is but they're a great band and seeing them live a few years ago was one of my top concerts of all time. People have a lot of feelings about the band for lots of reasons (they sued their fans, they sold out, they're kind of jerks) and that's all well and good but they are the original indie band. They were the first RSD ambassadors and took up the mantel again this year. You can watch their performance from today on their Facebook page. I don't know if this contributed to my brother coming with us today but I'm sure it played a small role in his interest. It didn't hurt that I also promised we'd go to the GWARbar. Scott has wanted to go to the GWARbar for a while now but driving almost two hours to go to a bar seems silly. Driving almost two hours to record shop AND go to a bar is totally acceptable. This is how things work in my brain.

GWAR is a heavy metal band from Richmond that is known for very elaborate costumes and stage shows that include lots of gore and "violence." The band has come under fire for the violence and skewering of political and pop culture figures. Dave Brockie, original lead vocalist, died in 2014 but the band has continued and the Gwarbar opened in 2015. My knowledge of the band is pretty limited; I mostly know the song featured in Empire Records and that members of the band did pop-up RDS appearances a few years ago. To say that I had expectations about this bar would be an understatement. I wanted the drama of a GWAR show and the deliciousness of a high end bar all wrapped together in a nice blood-stained box.

Instead, we saw a woman walking a pig down the street.

Yep, she was walking a pig and a dog down W. Clay Street. Our waitress was so excited by this she had to go out and pet the pig. This was the highlight of the visit to the bar. It's not that the bar was bad; it wasn't. The beer selection was good (Satan's Pony was an excellent ale), they had tots on the menu, the music was great/thematic (including my third favorite KISS song which now seems weird since it's "God Gave Rock N Roll to You"), the staff was friendly and funny, and there was lots of GWAR paraphernalia adorning the walls but it felt sort of like a theme restaurant that didn't take the theme far enough. Maybe it's because we were there at 4 pm. I don't know; something was just off.

We decided that going to the GWARbar was the least metal thing any of us has ever done. However, it didn't really matter that it was not as we expected; it was still fun and a great way to end a great RSD. More importantly, the experience led to the wonderful conversations that always make RSD so great:
  • Deciding what types of animals Adam could walk down the street on a leash or harness. This conversation started before we saw the woman walking a pig but that only made us consider this question more seriously. I think we decided Adam could have a gang of nocturnal animals including a racoon, opossum, and an armadillo.
  • The realization that in 3 of the last 4 RSDs, we have gone to a space themed bar or restaurant at some point during the day. This year's addition, Galaxy Diner, was a great addition to the space family. I recommend the Boba Feta Burger.
  • We think we figured out that the Virginia rest stop right before Central Park (near Fredericksburg) is the reason traffic is always so terrible going down 95S. My father can finally stop asking us this question...every time we talk.
  • Would you take your kids into a bar to go to the bathroom? I guess if it was the only option, the answer would be yes but then would you buy something instead of just being that person who uses the bathroom and bolts?
  • What's the most metal thing you've ever done? This can actually be answered in multiple ways ranging from an actual concerts to various lifestyle questions. Talk amongst yourselves on this one.   
  • The realization that GWAR is really just KISS taken to its most logical endpoint with more blood. I realize that many GWAR and KISS fans will not like this statement but that's okay; I'm not metal enough for any of them so we'll never have to meet one another and debate this topic. 
  • When in doubt of anything in your life, remember this: there is a store in Carytown that sells these wonderful "prayer" candles. I'm sure Saint Iggy will be there for you in your time of need.


  1. The least metal thing you did was not take a picture of the pig!

    1. I agree. It was hard to do from where we were in the bar and the woman was swamped by people which makes sense of course.