Saturday, April 21, 2012

Record Store Day 2012

Record Store Day started off pleasant enough as I arrived 40 minutes before the opening of the Amoeba Berkeley store. The line was already half-a-block long by the time I arrived. It was the kind of quiet, sunny, beautiful Saturday morning that made standing in line a pleasant experience.  I was in a good mood, struck up a conversation with a fellow record collector in line next to me. I was Mr. Congeniality, Mr. Sunshine, and Mr. Conviviality all wrapped into one. Impossible, you say. But true.

Then the doors opened. And the scene turned ugly.  You read about scenes like this: Black Friday as desperate shoppers trample over each other to grab the hottest Christmas gifts, grocery stores in Third-World countries in the middle of a food shortage, and sold-out concerts with general seating. My good mood turned black as I was pushed through the single aisle that had all the limited edition RSD releases. My view of the merchandise was blocked by walls of people. I grabbed what I could see. At one point I said out loud to no one in particular, Where are the Luna albums? Incredibly I got an answer from a sweet woman, who told me exactly where they were. Bless her heart. I was able to get the last copy of Romantica and the second-to-last copy of Rendezvous. I really wasn't expecting to get these. Neither album had ever been released on vinyl and only 1,000 copies were pressed for RSD.

I also picked up a copy of the 45 rpm audiophile pressing of the Black Keys' El Camino, A Lee Hazlewood compilation LP, and a White Stripes 7-inch single. I was in such a haste to get the hell out of there that I forgot to look for the first ever vinyl release of Sigur Ros' Hvarf-Heim. When I got home I found an online source for the album. We'll see if that works out.

When I checked out, my records were placed in a RSD canvas tote that was a full of schwag--an Amoeba Music t-shirt (XXL!), a Yo La Tengo sampler CD, a bunch of CD singles (Dandy Warhols, Madonna), a Coachella booklet with a sampler CD, promo stickers and posters, a fan, a mask, a 7-inch single of a rapper covering Dylan, and a bunch of other junk. As I was leaving the store, I witnessed something I had never seen before: A customer being kicked out of a record store. He had been yelling at an employee, because he was told the store didn't have a certain RSD release in stock. Another employee stepped in and told him rather forcefully to get out of the store. Then ensued a tug of war as the employee tried to take away the records the customer had in his hands. I didn't stick around to see how it ended. I had had enough of celebrating records and independent record stores.

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