Over the past five years, Record Store Day has steadily blossomed into a wondrous holiday for everyone to enjoy. Not only is the blessed day of limited addition albums and colorful re-releases a cordial invite for music fans to graciously empty their life savings, it’s a day of all around entertainment and, of course, free beer. Since its birth on April 19, 2008 – the festivities always land on the third Saturday of April – Record Store Day’s live showcases have more than doubled in size from its original 300 performances. In the past five years, big names like Iron & Wine, Foo Fighters and Jack White have made in-store appearances across the country. This year, RSD landed on April 21 and its growth has transcended the cult holiday into a worldwide music festival.
The party started early, and at some stores like Permanent Records in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, the party began at Midnight. Festival goer’s lined-up in front of stores mimicking the shopping frenzied Black Friday, but with more tattoos and warmer weather.
It’s the records they come for, but the continuous live music and free Krispy Crème donuts and beer makes them stick around.
According to the event’s website, over 30 Chicago record stores participate in the festivities including all three locations of the legendary Reckless Records, smaller mainstays like Lakeview’s Dave’s Records and newbie Favorite Records. Unfortunately – or fortunately – some stores are too jam packed with vinyl to hold a stage, but those with enough square footage rocked all day long with local bands and DJs.
Reckless Record’s Wicker Park location on Milwaukee hosted 5 bands and a rock ‘n’ roll caricature artist for the whole festival experience. Middle aged audiophiles held their toddlers high as local metal act, Bloodiest, took the stage just around 5 o’clock. The store vibrated with haunting bass riffs as a hefty crowd gathered near the back of the store. Blocking off a sufficient amount of records from those passing through, the live music transcended the store into a venue. While the music of Bloodiest wasn’t soothing in the slightest bit, it relaxed the experience. There should be no rush when searching for hidden gems. Reckless didn’t stop there though. Reckless’ party continued through the night at the Bottom Lounge near Chicago’s West Loop with exclusive Three Floyds beer, collectables and additional releases.
As one of Chicago’s newest record stores, Noble Square’s Favorite Records took part in DJ spinning and live music. Unlike other vinyl-cluttered stores, Favorite is spacious and bright with a built in stage for such instances in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. Only about a dozen folks gathered around, some with backpacks of beer, awaiting what one can only explain as a 50-year old punk band. Most of the crowd seemed to know the band, as they did not even announce themselves before starting.
Permanent Record’s Chicago base – their other store front is in Los Angeles – hosted 10 bands and DJs throughout Saturday during the day and the Midnight sales. The small store front is dark and dingy, just as a record store should be. Just as the hectic shopping day started to wind down, loud music started pumping through the basement-like venue. ONO, Psychic Teens and Vyto B & the Band That Never Made It were amongst the live performances. Spanning several hours, the live music was sprinkled in throughout DJs and record picking.
Record Store Day is a holiday, music festival and community gathering all in one. Each store has its own distinct personality, and it is celebrated on this day. As RSD continues to grow locally and worldwide, record stores and venues alike will pump life into it. After parties and late-night openings will naturally arise and expand making this day even more glorious in years to come.