Since 2007, the third Saturday in April has been set aside to give a little love to a pop cultural cornerstone: the local record store. This year Record Store Day falls on April 16, and Indianapolis outlets including LUNA Music, Indy CD and Vinyl and Vibes Music will celebrate with Record Store Day-exclusive releases, live music and audiophile fellowship.
"It's a microcosm of what's happening all over with the independent stores of all kinds," said LUNA Music owner Todd Robinson, who is planning a day-long spectacular featuring such acts as We Are Hex, Divine Time, Brad Real and Oreo Jones. "You can certainly order anything you want online, but people are coming back to the fact that we establish a rapport with a client."
Local favorites such as The Kemps, Eastside Larry and Beta Male will play multiple shows during the day Saturday, hopping from one store to the next. DJ sets from Jewey Ramone at Vibes Music and Rusty Redenbacher and Mr. Kinetik at LUNA Music will fill the space between live bands. All this in the name of keeping relevant what for many amounts to a way of life.
"I've been working at a record store for at least 23 years and I've owned my store for 13 of them," said Vibes Music owner John Zeps. "I don't know what else to do with myself. It's sort of sink or swim."
Indianapolis-based upstart Glory Hole Records will debut three singles during their showcase at Vibes: a three-song Vacation Club 7", a two-song Vacation Club / The Kemps split and a three-song Adam Kuhn / Christian Taylor and Homeschool split. (See sidebar.)
Not just another city joining in the party, Indianapolis is intimately connected with the burgeoning cause. Robinson is a member of the coalition that co-owns the name and meets regularly with record label executives. Indy CD and Vinyl owner Rick Zeigler was a major supporter of Indianapolis-based band Sanuk (now Hot Fox), which won last year's national "Record Store Day: High School Battle of the Bands" showcase.
Zeigler said his store had been involved from the beginning.
"We see a significant bump in sales," he said. "I think they just like the social experience; being able to get recommendations on things they might know other than about. It's important to us to do what we do well, which is focusing on music and not having it be one of 500 focuses."
Record Store Day bears more than a passing resemblance to its inspiration, Free Comic Book Day, scheduled this year for May 7. As sales of tangible copies of all media have taken a steep dive due to the cultural shift in media consumption, the organizers of these events hope to remind consumers of the tactile pleasures they're missing.
"I sell more vinyl than I do CDs," said Zeps. "For some reason people are going for an organic approach. You get a more of an on-hands experience. It's more like a ritualistic routine."
"A lot of people may forget how much the physical act of buying something how it informs the experience," said Robinson. "Pulling the record out. Putting the needle down. Checking out the liner notes. Having something tangible ties you to the experience."
Still Zeps thinks it's essential to diversify in order to stay solvent in a fractured media landscape.
"Actually we do cater to people on the internet," he said. "We have an Amazon store which is a way to get people into our main store."
Zeps said that he even ships to people in town who don't feel like venturing out to the store. His online marketplace has provided the means to keep the physical shop's doors open.
"Honestly, if I didn't have an Amazon store our store would not be around because of overhead," he said. "We don't sell the same volume we did in the late '80s and '90s. The internet truly does keep us alive. I probably sell more online a day than we do in our physical, sadly."
But the faithful still find hope in the future of the local music store as the setting for a life-changing encounter. Robinson said events like Record Store Day are an way to connect with younger fans who haven't known a world without the Internet.
"I had a fantastic opportunity the other day when this guy came in with his daughter and wanted a photograph of her first trip to a record store," he said. "We make it a giant party, a giant celebration."
Glory Hole Records
I happened to be at there for the inception of Indy's
newest label, Glory Hole Records. It was '04 or '05 and me and my buddy Jim
Peoni were on our way back from Cincinnati, where we had just seen an amazing
show by J. Mascis. As we got near Indy, we stumbled into the filthiest bathroom
I had ever seen. The thing that tied the room together was a well-worn glory
hole, its paint stripped to the metal by the gentle erosion of thousands of
Rock and roll can provide moments of breathtaking beauty, even as it can wallow in the filth of base human desires. Peoni decided to make that axiom the guiding principal of his new label, Glory Hole Records. The label's first three releases will debut on Record Store Day during a showcase at Vibes Music featuring performances by all of the label's artists.
Topping the bill is Vacation Club, whose Beach-Boys-from-Hell sound should make their first Glory Hole release, a three-song 7-inch, an instant classic. If Brian Wilson had actually recorded Charles Manson's tepid folk ballads, he might have ended up with songs like "Gettin' Man" and "Feeling Bad," the first two tracks from that Vacation Club single. Closer "Beach Flowers" is a bombastic summertime ballad complete with angelic harmonies.
Vacation Club contribute more beach blanket fuzz, in the form of "How We Do," to a Record Store Day-exclusive split with The Kemps' thuggish "Graveyard Kitten." A third Glory Hole release features fractured folkie Adam Kuhn on one side, with Christian Taylor & Homeschool on the other. Glory Hole Records will be available at all local record salons in an old fashioned record holder. - Jeff Napier
If You Go: Record Store Day 2011
The following is a rundown of just some of the events and specials happening locally on April 16. For more, head to www.recordstoreday.com and click on the "Participating Stores" link.
Indy CD and Vinyl, 806 Broad Ripple Avenue
Free homemade cookies, soda, grab bags stuffed with goodies (with purchase), membership double discounts on used CDs and LPs and live music featuring:
Noon - Junker
1 p.m. - Pop Lolita
2 p.m. - Beta Male
3:30 p.m. - Hotfox
5 p.m. - Five Year Mission
6 p.m. - Eastside Larry
LUNA Music, 5202 North College Ave.
Starting at 10 a.m., the store will hold its annual sidewalk sale outside as well as live in-store performances from:
Vibes Music, 1051 East 54th Street
A showcase for newly-formed local label Glory Hole Records will be in effect from 2 to 8 p.m. featuring exclusive releases, kegs, refreshments and live music from Marmoset, Vacation Club, Homeschool, The Kemps, and Adam Kuhn. D.J. Jewey Ramone will spin between live sets. (Donations are welcome.)