My Top Eleven In-stores
If you read this column (or blog, if you prefer), then you know that I can't write a list without a quick list of qualifiers. This list has two:
The performance must be at a record store. I clarify this because Lord knows I've seen some really smokin' private shows at various conferences and shindigs, but that's a separate list.
It must be a performance. I say this in contrast to straight autograph signings (like Weezer and Garbage), which are cool, but not as much as a full performance.
11. Ben Kweller (Hoodlums/ASU)
By far the smallest of the Hoodlums' in-stores... and the only time we ever did two in-stores in one day. Ben was supporting his first album, Sha Sha, and his label asked if he could come in and play the same day we had Phantom Planet playing on the M.U. stage. We said, "What the hell," and borrowed ASU's piano, and put it in the middle of the store. We finished off a successful Phantom Planet show, and we waited.
Ben showed up more than an hour late, but the loyal group of fans that waited for him were treated to an extra performance: An impromptu batch of covers performed by Phantom Planet's Jason Schwartzmann (yes, the movie star) on piano with lead singer (and Gap model) Alex Greenwald.
Once Ben got there, his gregarious, enagaging nature and great songs took over. Small, but memorable.
Note: Ben did return a few years later for a much bigger show in the TV Lounge, which I actually found on youtube (see page 1).
10. Guttermouth (Hoodlums/ASU)
This was one of the first in-stores that we had after moving into our expanded location in the M.U... which, unlike the first store, featured an office.
I only bring that up because like the true punk professionals, that's where the boys drank their beers, at 10AM in the morning! Hey, you do what you gotta do for a noon in-store (we did our in-stores at noon because that is the union's busiest time of day).
It wasn't just them that stayed loyal to the punk way in spite of the early performance time. ASU punk fans packed the floor and proceeded to create a fine little mosh pit. Such a fine little mosh pit that we had to have employees stand next to the speakers (which were on stands) to make sure nobody knocked one over and hurt someone. In the end, though chaos reigned, safety was achieved.
9. Pete Yorn (Electic Fetus/Minneapolis)
A few of the in-stores on this list are not in the Valley. That's because every year a different store would host the annual CIMS conference, and the congruence of indie retail's best storeowners would be enough to track some really cool artists.
One such artists was one of Hoodlums' favorites, Pete Yorn. I did get a chance to meet Pete years later at the Marquee, but this show, at the legendary Fetus (famous in early rock magazines for it's patented Proto-pipe), was the first time I had the chance to see him perform... and what a show it was. Intimate and awesome.