There once was a time when showing friends your music collection involved sifting through boxes of vinyl rather than scrolling through an iPod. On Record Store Day, vinyl lovers could continue this nostalgic way of enjoying music.
Since its inception in 2007, the day has become an international holiday recognized by thousands of record shops globally for its assortment of exclusive releases and free in-store performances. This year, Record Store Day was April 20.
Record Store Day’s list of releases on its website was lengthy and included some acclaimed names. One of the exclusives, featuring Record Store Day ambassador Jack White, was a 10th anniversary reissue of The White Stripes’ fourth album “Elephant” on red vinyl. Sigur Rós took part in the holiday as well with a first time U.S. release of “Agaetis Byrjun.” Other musicians with exclusive releases were David Bowie, Elliott Smith, R.E.M., The Notorious B.I.G. and The xx.
In Philly, the record store love was alive and well with more than 15 participating shops, which included Repo Records, A.K.A. Music and Long in the Tooth. Each one featured long lines of eager participants and countless stacks of music.
Repo Records opened at 10 a.m. to a line of about 50 people spanning past its block on South Street. The customers fronting the line, clutching lists of desired purchases, arrived as early as sunrise.
“I’ve been collecting for 30 years,” said Jason Fisher, the first person in line. “I’d estimate my collection to be just over 5,000. I was here last year. I thought they conducted it well and that they might have a good choice of albums.”
Sean Mellody, the second earliest arrival, said he spent Record Store Day at Repo last year as well.
“This is the third year I’ve come here,” Mellody said. “It’s my local record store and it’s good to support them. It’s close to home and easy to get here early.”
As 10 a.m. came, the shop allowed 20 people in at a time to prevent overcrowding.
“My parents brought me up listening to vinyl, so we spent our time pushing the furniture back in the living room and dancing,” attendee Kyra Carver said. “I’ve been doing this every year. It’s the way that I support the artists I love.”
To cool off after record hunting all day, customers received vouchers for $1.50 off drafts at Fountain Porter in South Philly for April 20-21. A.K.A. Music
Besides having Record Store Day releases, A.K.A. Music in Old City teamed up with Philebrity to host a free show from 1-5 p.m. with four Philadelphia-based bands. Restorations, a group that’s been affectionately described as “music for grown-up punks,” played, as well as folk band Heyward Howkins. Next, Bridge Underwater, whose EP entitled “Dead Man” was released in January, performed, followed by DJ Mikele Edwards.
“I think about 50 to 100 people came out to the show,” said A.K.A. Music employee Isaac Williams. “It’s a pretty small space.”
Likening Record Store Day to a “Black Friday for music lovers” would be accurate, as the array of tables filled with new releases became wiped of much of its contents before noon.
“I’ve always been a big collector, so I think Record Store Day is a lot of fun. It gets peoples’ interest and helps promote records and independent record stores. I work around the corner, so I’m here at least once or twice a week,” said Joe Chauncy, who’s attended Record Store Day every year at A.K.A. Music since its creation.
Long in the Tooth
Long in the Tooth avoided the morning rush by keeping its normal business hours and remaining closed until noon, but that didn’t suppress the crowd of about 50 people who waited to grab some of the more than 100 releases the store stocked for the event.
“I’ve always been attracted to music,” said Rob Blackwell, who waited in line for more than an hour. “I haven’t been collecting long, I probably have about 30 records. I started because I just wanted to get different formats for supporting artists. I felt like there wasn’t much going for the CD and buying vinyl is a good way to give back.”
Blackwell stood with David Skovron, a first time Record Store Day participant. “I came here for the Hold Steady seven-inch – it was the only thing I was really interested in but I don’t know what my chances of getting that are.” The friends said they were spending the day visiting various record shops.
Once inside, customers checked out the Record Store Day releases lining the wall above the register, while flipping through the store’s numerous crates full of used punk, metal, hip hop and rock titles.
At 9 p.m., Long in the Tooth held a free show featuring Serpent Throne, a doom metal band from Philadelphia formed in 2005.
Mumford and Sons – “Live from Bull Moose EP”
The White Stripes – “Elephant”
The Black Keys/Stooges – “Side by Side: No Fun”
Pink Floyd – “See Emily Play”
Paul McCartney & Wings – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
Cheyenne Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.