Well another record store day has passed and what a day it was. More releases than ever before and the most well attended by music fans and those who wish to support independent record stores.
This year I chose Rise Music store in Bristol for the 3rd year running and it was an even better experience than usual due to the excellent staff and organisation of the large queues that inevitably are formed so early in the morning.
Rise has recently had to branch out and diversify its product range in order to keep the integrity of it’s core activity, namely being an independent record store. They now have a partnership on the ground floor of the premises with Friska, bringing a high quality independent Cafe and a stage for in store gigs. This works remarkably well and in someways adds to the record store ambiance rather than taking away from it.
So for record store day rather than waiting in the freezing cold for hours we were able to spend some of it in the warmth of the cafe while waiting for the fun to begin.
This year I ended up getting to the shop for 4:15am, yes – 4:15!!!! unbelievably I was still 20th in the line!
It was a 2 hour wait before the cafe opened at 6am and slowly allowed the queue of people to enter. The lucky first 20 in the queue get their items picked for them and a goody bag with some freebies for making the effort. This is an excellent way of doing it and avoids the scrum for the very rare items that people are after.
Lawrence (owner of the store) sporting his red fez for the day was constantly looking after people making sure they got the help they needed to find what they wanted.
It’s an exciting time to get your hands on the limited edition items, however, it is easy to forget what the day is really about. To bring people into the independent record stores all over the country that have been going out of business at an alarming rate.
The record stores still around are excellent and have had to up their game by diversifying and essentially giving people a much better experience. Rough Trade, Sister Ray and soul jazz records to name a few I have been to recently are all excellent. One of the great pleasures is talking to the staff who are enthusiasts for new music and are extremely knowledgeable. Rise Music is excellent at this, and many are in bands themselves such as Olo Worms in Bristol, adding to the live music vibe of the store.
The much hullabaloo about HMV recently brings into focus how good independent record stores are. People cry that HMV is the last music store on the high street. My beef with this is that I don’t think that it has truly been a music store for 20 years. It lost it’s soul a long time ago and became a bland entertainment store, charging too much on the whole, with little support for local bands hiding vinyl in a corner somewhere if you were lucky.
Whoever has the pleasure of re-organising the HMV business model would do well to look at the independent record stores for inspiration.
So what were my picks of the RSD 2013. I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on all 3 of the Caribou albums – of which rise only had 3 copies of each in store. Tame Impala, Paul Weller, David Bowie and Nick Cave were all highlights for me.
Apparently the day became the best in Rise music’s history so far. The interest generated by the event and the entertainment provided by Rise was superb. The bands that played all day were excellent and I met many like minded music lovers from as far away as Swindon who will be back next year. More importantly, they will be back between now and the next RSD supporting their independent record shops.
As if to stress the point – I was back at Rise the next day for an in store free gig by Mathew E White. A lunch time beer and a free gig is not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Mathew E White was amazing. The band played for about half an hour, the ground floor was packed and the music was superb. Their rhythm section blew the house down.
I couldn’t recommend Rise music highly enough. Remember to support our local record stores!