Sunday, 20 April 2014

My Record Store Day 2014 Experience

After 4 years of following the event closely via social media, this year I decided to finally take the plunge and loose my 'record store day virginity'. This year I would go to Rough Trade East at a ridiculously early time of the morning, join a queue full of avid record lovers and all for the sake of buying some colourful wax in a pretty sleeve and that's exactly what I did (and it was bloody excellent.)

My original plan was to got to bed at 9/9:30 in order to get a good nights sleep. But instead, due to my intense excitement/nervousness I eventually nodded off at 0:30. So yeah that failed. After 4 hours sleep(!) I embarked on my journey. Following a 30-minute train journey from an (unsurprisingly) deserted Crystal Palace station, I arrived at Brick Lane and joined the queue, which to my surprise only had around 70-80 people when I arrived. However, the size nearly doubled within the next 30 minutes. Whilst queuing I struck up some record-based 'banter' with some of the people in front of me, which mainly consisted of 'What are you hoping to get?', 'what time did you wake up?' and 'when the bloody hell are they gonna open up?!'. Aside from this we discussed the event itself, most talk focusing on the question: 'If by 8am the queue is this huge, how big will it be at the same time next year?' 

These deep thoughts were firmly put on hold when the queue started to move and thoughts turned back to 'VINYL VINYL VINYL!'. With the glorious sun beating down on us, the entrance was so close I could practically taste the wax. After quickly working out a strategy with my friend, I made my way in. I wasted no time and went straight for the excellent Fear Of Men LP (which was my most anticipated release). I then took the advice of one of my queuing buddies and used my unfortunate height situation to my advantage by staying low and weaving through the crowds before surfacing briefly to pick up a record, like a cheetah in the Savanna stalking its prey. My strategy was clearly effective and I got everything on my list with the exception of the London Grammar 10" (which I couldn't find for the life of me) and the non-violent femmes compilation, which unfortunately sold out before I even got in. As I made my way to the counter, slightly disappointing with not getting those items, a very courteous curly-haired gentlemen (who may well be my guardian angel) informed me that there was in fact one London Grammar 10" left. So without even a second thought I pounced on the rack and just about beat 5 other hands to get the very last copy. Result.

With a bunch of new goodies (including the excellent 12" from Little Dragon and the Tame Impala Live Versions LP) in tow, I headed towards the stage where the first instore of the day was about to start, the first band I had the pleasure of seeing was a London folk-rock duo called The Rails.Though I had heard about them briefly beforehand, I didn't really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised with how brilliant they were. Their tight harmonies, intricate guitar playing, strong chemistry and bubbly onstage banter made their set the highlight of my day. I would seriously recommend checking out their debut album Fair Warning when it's released in May. If that wasn't enough, they also played Rough Trade NYC on the very same day. So extra brownie points for them.

After yet more waiting around (I had gotten used to it by this point), it was finally time for TOY's set. A considerably larger crowd had gathered by this point, mainly consisting of 16-24 with 'vintage' clothing and questionable haircuts. This one certainly felt more like a gig. At this point in time my lack of sleep had come back to bite me and I was beginning to drift off. Luckily I was standing right by the speakers which nearly melted my face off when the band started playing. The highlight of their set was the last track they played 'Join The Dots'; the title track of their last album certainly ensured that they went out with a bang. As fun as it was being physically moved across the floor by the vibrations of the speakers whilst awkwardly bobbing my head (out of sync with the beat I might add) in an effort to not look totally out of place, I definitely preferred The Rails. 

As much as I wanted to see East India Youth, standing constantly for 6 hours was beginning to take it's toll and (unlike R.Kelly) whilst my mind was telling me yes, from body it was a resounding no. So I headed off for the markets where I bought a hot dog the size of by lower arm and gazed in awe at my purchases.

In spite of all my prior fears and concerns, Record Store Day was a success (well it was for my anyway). Not only did I manage to get the majority of records I was hoping to buy and watch two of the 3 acts I wanted to see, but I also got to speak to some like-minded vinyl enthusiasts. This reassured me that despite all the negative criticism the event has been receiving of late, one cannot deny that the event has further spread the message that vinyl is back and is better than ever. However, this is as much an issue as it is a positive; how much bigger can the event possibly get before the concept is lost completely and it becomes impossible to get anything unless you camp at 2 in the morning? Not long, unfortunately. 

I feel the best way to end this post would be with the line which was proudly written across the shop front at Rough Trade: 'A record is for life, not just for record store day. Amen. 

Side note: You can see me looking very happy albeit slightly stoned (I wasn't, by the way) on The Guardian Website here:

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