Record Store Day put the punch back into the day with an amazing set of in-store performances all across the country Saturday (April 16), including Metallica playing at Rasputin in Berkeley, Calif., Songhoy Blues playing at Darkside Records in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the Fleshtones lighting up the stage at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, N.Y.
But the day began for Retail Track at Baby’s All Right, where the WEA Record Store Crawl was getting lubricated and launched for the day’s festivities with a two-hour open bar. In addition to libations, for $60, participants got a goody bag of Record Store Day titles and a school bus to (kind-of) chauffeur them around town to record stores.
Dick Joseph, WEA indie rep, put on the jaunt and says the idea was sparked last year on Record Store Day while he and a group of friends visited record stores. “We thought… why isn’t there an officially organized Record Store Day Crawl? So we decided to start it this year. The purpose of the RSD Crawl is to celebrate the culture of Record Store Day, the music and independent retail across the city.”
So they started a Record Store Crawl website and sold tickets, with the bus selling out — with 44 people aboard, including various music fans who found out and bought tickets, a film crew, some press, and five WEA employees.
With Baby’s All Right almost at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn and the first stop Bleecker Street Records in the West Village, 10 blocks north of the bridge and six block across town, you would think the bus would be there in 30 minutes. But the bridge and lower Manhattan were one gigantic parking lot, probably due to a march for Bernie Sanders from the Lower East Side up to Union Square Park.
But that was OK because Joseph also set up entertainment for the bus ride, with Bear Hands doing an acoustic set playing songs from their new album, You’ll Pay for This, released the day before Record Store Day.
With the band in the middle of the bus, the RSD Crawlers were entertained by four songs, including “2AM.” And when the bus ride took longer than anticipated, the band even threw in a snippet of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
Meanwhile, the bus, dubbed the “Magic School Bus” during the ride, was inching along in lower Manhattan, and for some reason instead of heading straight across Delancey Street to the West Side, the bus went up the Bowery — maybe in an an attempt to get around the march. The marchers must have been bored because as we passed block after block of them, they cheered the bus and the Record Store Day crawlers. (Fortunately, the idea of someone on the bus that the crawlers start chanting Trump at the marchers was ignored, so the bus was never really in danger of being overturned by an angry mob.)
The bus driver — who normally drives students to an all-girl school and who says he played drums and hung around Richie Havens‘ recording studio when he was younger — went all the way up to 17th Street to cross over to the West Side. A good 45 minutes to an hour after leaving Baby’s All Right, the bus pulled up in front of Bleecker Street Records, where at two o’clock, it appeared at least half the Record Store Day titles were sold out already, if the crossed off titles on the list were any indication. Julia, a store clerk, said Bowie’s Pye Singles was the hot title when the store opened. By the time the bus arrived there, that was sold out, as were titles by the Doors, the 13 Floor Elevators, Bob Dylan, the Buzzcocks and Husker Du, among others.
When the Crawlers left for Record Runner and Generation Records — where they saw Monogold play a live performance — over in the heart of the Village, Retail Track left the Crawl and grabbed a cab back to Rough Trade in Williamsburg to see the Fleshtones. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the store still had a long line of music fans waiting to access the Record Store Day titles, while the rest of the store was mobbed with customers flipping through the CD and vinyl.
Inside in the store’s concert hall, a sludge metal band called Nothing was playing to a jam-packed and highly appreciative crowd. After Nothing, the Fleshtones set up shop and the stage and rocked the house with a 45-minute set, playing a cross section of their songs from various albums and 45s, including “Back To School,” “Let’s Go,” “Haunted Hipster” and “Remember the Ramones” from their Yep Roc release Wheel of Talent while they weaved in their trademark Fleshtones-cum-Paul-Revere-and-the-Raiders stage moves.
During the tail end of the Fleshtones’ set, the Record Store Crawl bus pulled into the store to make an already crowded store that much more frantic. Indeed, Record Store Day delivers yet another home run not just for independent record stores, but for for the entire music industry in 2016, nine years after the day was first launched.
As for the Record Store Crawl, that too will live on, according to Joseph: “What better way [to celebrate Record Store Day] than going to record stores with your friends, listening to new music, having a band play on your bus and having a few beers along the way? We plan to have multiple Record Store Crawls across the country this summer, including more in NYC.”