On Record Store Day, the line outside New York's J&R Music World reached all the way down the corner, and around it toward Nassau Street. (Photo: Charlie Bagarozza)
The faithful flocked to record stores all over the world on Saturday -- Record Store Day -- snapping up nearly 300 exclusive releases, checking out special in-store performances, and overall showing their support for a segment of the music community that's been hard hit by the digital-music revolution/evolution. Around the New York metropolitan and across the globe, lines formed early in the morning and by mid-day, many of the limited edition releases were sold out, according to reports from various record label executives Retail Track encountered during the day.
Retail Track's day began Downtown with a pilgrimage to our favorite NYC record store, J&R Music World. After taking longer than expected to find a parking spot (a garage), we arrived in time to hear the last two songs by Everest.
According to store manager Charlie Bagarozza, the day began with a line that stretched around the corner. Having learned from last year -- a mini-riot took place when customers battled over the exclusive releases displayed on a wall of the last aisle of the store -- this year, the exclusives were upstairs, behind a counter, and customers read through lists to get the releases they wanted. The line outside was eliminated within an hour, although the much smaller East Village store Other Music (600 square feet as opposed to J&R's 14,000) had a line until at least 2 p.m., according to reports. A2IM's Rich Bengloff began emailing us from the line at 10:25 a.m. and told us he'd finally gotten into the store an hour and 20 minutes later.
Approximately 200 fans gathered to hear Portugal. The Man turn in a stellar Record Store Day set at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, N.J. (Photo: Jerry Rubino)
There was no line at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, N.J. when Retail Track arrived in the afternoon, but it was a different story when store owner Rob Roth arrived at 5:30 a.m.: "There were about 50 people waiting," he told Billboard.biz. "And when we opened at 8 a.m., there were about 400-500 people on line. Every year, awareness is higher," he continued. "People come in with lists printed out of what they are looking for. And what makes me even happier: the crowds get younger every year."
On the first Record Store Day in 2007, he said, the store was packed to see nine bands perform, but most of the crowd were 40 and older, Roth recalled. "Now, kids are coming into stores to buy vinyl." Previously, those kids connected to music on the internet and had no use for record stores. But vinyl is changing that, he said: "Vinyl is creating a new demo for us that had not been in the store before."
Like other stores, Roth said he's had to cut down on live performances during Record Store Day in order to do business. During performances, the aisles of the store are mobbed and people stop shopping, he said -- which is exactly what happened Saturday when Portugal. The Man played their set at Vintage Vinyl. A good 200 people were on hand to welcome the band, with only about 20 customers shopping during the set. But by the time the band began playing, the store had already had a great day. "By noon, half of the exclusives were sold out," Roth reported. "We have already had about 3,000 people in here today."
At 4:30 Retail Track left Vintage Vinyl to head south, to the Princeton Record Exchange, where They Might Be Giants were performing at 6 p.m., but we changed course after hearing that Paul Collins' Beat were playing at Generation Records back in New York's Greenwich Village at 6:30. We arrived just 10 minutes before Collins began playing a blistering set, starting off with "I Don't Fit In," from the first album, also playing "Don't Wait Up For Me," and "Rock n Roll Girl," among other favorites.
Generation Records had the band perform downstairs, where about 60 people were packed in for the set. Upstairs on the main floor, another 25 customers were busily shopping and the cash register steadily rung up sales. According to Linda (just Linda), earlier in the day the line ran down the block to Bleecker Street for about three hours. Since they expected the onslaught, Generation didn't start band performance until 2 p.m. to allow the customers to purchase the exclusives.
The scene at Vintage Vinyl during Portugal. The Man's set (Photo: Jerry Rubino)
Downstairs, Retail Track ran into RED's new media rep Ava Ryerson, who reported that Brooklyn's SoundFix had been cleaned out of exclusive product by the time she arrived. Meanwhile, Collins mistakenly noted "It's Record Day" for about the fifth time and still no one corrected him. He compared record-store owners to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: "These guys are holding onto their stores for future generations so that kids can experience vinyl," he said.
Retail Track's Record Store Day ended on a perfect note: Not in a record store, but in the Long Island City's L.I.C. Bar, where a 12-piece band (apparently without a name) played a near-note-perfect rendition of T. Rex's classic "Electric Warrior" -- encoring, naturally enough, with the non-LP single that preceded the album, "Hot Love."