In case you've somehow missed the propaganda popping up around town and the Internets, Record Store Day is Saturday, April 18. In honor of the third-annual national event, New Times talked to owners and employees of local indie music businesses and compiled five reasons why you should give two poops about record stores in the age of digital downloads. We also found out what you can expect when you drop by your favorite shops.
1. Better understand films like Dude, Where's My Car? and 50 First Dates.
If you didn't like or get the aforementioned flicks, it may be because you're spending too much time on iTunes, dude. "Without record stores, these movies are just 'ha ha' funny," says Whoopi Poopie, a decade-long employee of Eastside Records. "With record stores, they're funny like The Aristocrats."
Record Store Day
You know what else is funny? Trying to get a straight answer out of anyone who works at the quirky shop on 217 West University Drive in Tempe. When asked about Eastside's plans for Record Store Day, Whoopi Poopie (see, couldn't even get the guy to tell us his real name) runs another counter on us. "The management wishes to keep that info undisclosed because it would ruin the surprise." Sigh.
2. Kick it with some of your favorite living and/or dead musicians.
Don't let Elliott Smith's corpse status keep you from getting close to the seminal singer-songwriter. All you gotta do is stroll into Stinkweeds — which is famous for hosting awesome in-store performances by local and national acts, such as Smith, on the cheap — and buy a CD-R copy of Stinkweeds by Tempe-based noise band Tent/City that includes a chunk of the store's old stage carpet. Then see if you can extract a strand of hair from the packaging in order to feel that much closer to Mr. Knife-in-the-Chest.
If you're more into musicians who are still breathing, then head to the central Phoenix shop, located at 12 West Camelback Road, and check out the eight live bands, including Back Ted N-Ted and Fatigo, that are scheduled to perform on Saturday. You can also pick up a limited-edition Record Store Day-exclusive CD comp by four local labels showcasing tuneage by Kinch and Go Big Casino, which is the side project of Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World.
3. Downloads are drab, dude.
TJ Jordan, co-conspirator of Revolver Records, isn't hip to newfangled technology for a reason. It's because "downloading songs is equal to taking a photo of a Picasso," he says, adding that "buying records is so much more of an experience. Downloads are boring!"
On Saturday, the vinyl-heavy shop at 4214 North Seventh Avenue is planning a storewide mega-sale, with live music beginning at 3 p.m., and brand-new gear for sale, ranging from T's to tote bags.
4. Unpopular dorks deserve friends, too.
Were you eternally labeled a loser in high school for liking The Cramps and rocking The Dead Milkmen patches on your leather jacket? No worries, because record stores inherently create a community where "kids who aren't popular at school feel like they have a safe haven," says Stinkweeds' Kimber Lanning.
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Another community-based spot to find pals — as well as good music and movies — is at Hoodlums New & Used Music, 6434 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. For Saturday's unofficial holiday, the store will feature Spraygraphic's "Support Your Local Band" poster art exhibit as well as store giveaways and a live performance potpourri headlined by locals Stephen Steinbrink, and Porches.
5. Be all urban, ride the light rail, and pick up some cool merch.
Living in the 'burbs sucks sometimes — plus there aren't too many options in the mean streets of Surprise and Anthem to get your hands dirty amongst bins of records and CDs — so light-rail it to Stinkweeds, Grandiose Records & Gear, 104 East Pierce Street, and Tracks in Wax, 4741 North Central Avenue.
On Record Story Day, the newish Grandiose — which stocks hipster-friendly men's and women's apparel as well as vinyl with a dusty soul bent — will go off with DJs and a barbecue. Over at Tracks in Wax, the folks at the longstanding institution for vinyl fortunes insist that it will be just another day in record store kingdom, which, by our estimation, will be a pretty damn good day.