The Eleven Greatest Record Store Performances, Part One

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek. Biweekly, he shares stories of great music and whacky characters from his continuing 27 years in Valley record stores and the always-zany music biz.

Guttermouth works up the crowd at Hoodlums ASU
Guttermouth works up the crowd at Hoodlums ASU
Steve Wiley

As you might expect, working in a record store is a pretty cool job.

Sure, there are plenty of times when it's just retail, with all the same annoyances and tedious tasks as any other store. Being trapped in one place all day, standing for hours, and of course, customers from hell. But for the most part, it's a music-lovers dream.

This is especially true when you get a chance to get up and close with the artists...and nothing gets you closer than being involved in an in-store performance.

Luckily, over the past 27 years, I've hosted and attended my share. They are never the same, and never predictable. Read on, and I'll share a list of stories from my Top Eleven In-store Performances of All-Time.

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In-store Performances Don't Grow on Trees, You Know.

One of the reasons that in-stores are so cool is that they are hard to get. Every store begs for them - at least every store I've ever worked at or owned - but very few stores actually get them.

A store has to do big sales, have a place for bands to play, and really be able to draw a crowd. You have to be able to handle the logistics, the marketing, and the inevitable customer-created hilarities. Even then, artists are reticent to perform...especially established artists.

I've been lucky enough to be involved in a ton of in-stores for three reasons:

1) The indie chain that I managed (Zia Record Exchange) for three years had eight stores, which provided a plethora of flexibility and different customer bases;

2) The store that I owned (Hoodlums) for fifteen years was located in the one of the busiest locations in the entire country (the ASU Memorial Student Union), and;

3) Hoodlums spent nearly ten years as a member of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), which placed me in the some of the best stores in the country.

Don't get me wrong, in-stores aren't all good. Sometimes artists and record labels can be a nightmare. But for the most part, a grand majority of my experiences have been enjoyable.

Now, without further rambling, I present my eleven all-time favorites.

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